Masked thief fumbles Tonic robbery

Witnesses of a robbery at Tonic Restaurant earlier this month told city police they recognized the alleged thief as a worker for a local food delivery service, according to a Metropolitan Police Department report.

The suspect, described in the report as a 6-foot tall black male between 30 and 40 years old and wearing a ski mask, entered the restaurant at around 7:30 p.m. on March 12, according to the police report. The man grabbed a cash register and fled out the building’s side door, said Jeremy Pollok, the restaurant’s owner and general manager.

Four employees chased the man and were able to wrestle the register away from the suspect, Pollok said. The alleged thief escaped with $48, according to the police report.

As the employees recovered the cash register, they recognized the assailant as a worker for D.C. Snacks, a local food delivery service, according to the report. Matt Mandell, the delivery service’s owner, said he knows that no one who was working for the company on the evening of March 12 was involved, but did not know much else about the incident.

“We take this very seriously,” Mandell said, adding that it was disappointing to see the name of something he has worked hard for being associated with the robbery.

Mandell said that D.C. Snacks deliverymen are contractors, not employees, but background checks are routine. He added that D.C. Snacks is cooperating with the police to “try to find a resolution” and said the organization is offering a potential reward of 100 pints of ice cream to anyone who has any information that leads to a conviction.

Pollock said that the restaurant was busy with around 50 to 100 people at the time of the incident. He added that only people who were sitting at the bar on the first floor saw the incident occur. When the cash register was brought back after the incident, he said that there were a few claps and cheers.

There has never been a robbery like this in any of the two Tonic restaurants in the District, Pollok said. To prevent this incident from occurring again, Pollok said that the cash drawer was moved to below the counter and added that all he can do is hope for the best.

“It was a crime of poor judgment on our part. Just by our moving it, that prevents that type of things from happening again,” Pollok said.

Pollok said the store usually discourages employees from chasing thieves due to safety concerns.

“It’s against policy, but, it was so quick and it is hard to combat that first instinct. It almost comes down to fight or flight,” he said of the employees’ reaction. “Generally, the policy is that it’s not worth it. I think there was $300 in the cash drawer; someone getting hurt, or even worse, is not worth $300.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.