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First, the COVID-19 pandemic. Now this: Two Fresno restaurants are picking up the pieces after vandals caused damage in separate, unrelated incidents.


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“It seems pretty pointed at me. Nothing happened to any of the other businesses (nearby). So somebody is not happy with something and they just shut us all up.”Chuck Van Fleet, owner of Vino Grille & Spirits

Chuck Van Fleet, owner of Vino Grille & Spirits in northeast Fresno, awoke Wednesday night with a call that someone shot out his windows with a gun.

“My cleaning crew called me and said, ‘Hey, all of your windows are broken.’ I’m like, how can they be broken? My alarm hasn’t gone off,” Van Fleet said. “I came over here and it was obvious that there were bullet holes through my doors.”

Earlier in the week, the owner of Oggi Cosi Si Mangia in the Tower District discovered his restaurant trashed.

Both owners say vandals caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Bullets Damage Vino Grille & Spirits

Van Fleet said someone shot at least eight bullets, possibly from an air rifle, destroying doors and windows. The damage is estimated at $10,000.

No one was in the restaurant at the time of the shooting.

Van Fleet says he is open for take-out and curbside pickup. He will fully reopen for dine-in customers on Tuesday.

After arriving on the scene, Van Fleet found glass all over his restaurant. The vandal also poured motor oil in the decorative fountain outside the eatery.

“We’ve had to throw away a lot of food. And then, I wasn’t able to open. I can’t open safely when my doors are boarded up,” Van Fleet said.

The city of Fresno rolled back shelter-in-place restrictions, allowing restaurants to open as soon as Thursday night.

Van Fleet says he is open for take-out and curbside pickup. He will fully reopen for dine-in customers on Tuesday.

Surveillance Captured an Image

Surveillance video captured a shadowy figure but does not provide a good look at the face.

As he and his crew boarded up the restaurant, Van Fleet wondered why this happened.

“It seems pretty pointed at me. Nothing happened to any of the other businesses (nearby). So somebody is not happy with something and they just shut us all up,” Van Fleet said.

Van Fleet is also president of the local chapter of the California Restaurant Association.

Throughout the ordeal, Van Fleet praised Fresno police.

“The Fresno police were absolutely amazing. They came out. There were four or five police out here,” Van Fleet said. “They cleared the building to make sure nobody was in it. But they stayed with me until the guys got here to board it up. They were really supportive.”

Surveillance image of a suspected vandal Wednesday night at Vino Grille & Spirits (Vino Grille & Spirits)

Oggi Owner: I’m at the Edge of My Rope

“I’m at the edge of my frickin’ rope.”Oggi’s owner Louie Maglieri

Louie Maglieri has owned Oggi’s for 13 years, and been working in restaurants his whole life — dating back to growing up in Montreal and Chicago.

He closed down Oggi’s for two months because of the pandemic shelter-in-place orders but monitored his shop either in person or via video stream.

Maglieri got suspicious earlier in the week when his alarm company notified him of motion inside the restaurant, but his video surveillance stream wasn’t working. On Wednesday morning, he discovered his restaurant trashed.

“We were burglarized. …. They tore the place up, like really badly,” Maglieri said.

Some of the damage inside Oggi’s restaurant. (Special to GV Wire)

He also discovered business papers from his restaurant in the back of his truck left in the parking lot, and in the dumpster — later set on fire.

Maglieri discovered curtains were closed at Oggi’s, which he normally leaves open.

“My office is destroyed. They emptied me out. There was no power. I lost the food in the freezer. They stole the (video recorder) box. There was clawhammer stuck in the keypad,” Maglieri recalled.

Maglieri is still calculating the damage, at least $20,000, including $8,000 in stolen wine.

“I’m at the edge of my frickin’ rope,” Maglieri said.

Frustrated at Homeless

Although he can’t prove it because his cameras were cut and storage unit stolen, Maglieri thinks the residents of the homeless encampment that sprung up behind is restaurant are to blame.

Maglieri said he was frustrated at the police for failing to deal with the encampments in the area.

“I would bet my life on it. But at the same time, I’m not going to lie. I could have easily said, ‘yeah, I saw them in the building,’ but I’m not that kind of person,” Maglieri said.

Maglieri said he was frustrated at the police for failing to deal with the encampments in the area.

“What kills me is that the police go by there every freaking day because they park behind my restaurant to do paperwork. Why can’t they chase them out of there? How do they allow them even to set up a tent? I’m saying it’s ridiculous,” Maglieri said.

Maglieri said it’s not worth it to take care of the homeless situation by himself.

“If something happens … they have nothing to lose. I’m the one that’s going to be in trouble,” Maglieri said.

More of the damage inside Oggi’s. (Special to GV Wire)

Still Wouldn’t Reopen

Even with the permission from the city to reopen, Maglieri says he will remain closed, taking a wait-and-see approach.

“To sell a plate of spaghetti, I got to do like a NASA routine here. It’s just not even worth it to me anymore. My servers now become nurses, pretty much. They have to sanitize everything. I mean, we’re clean anyway, but it’d be just these extra precautions. It’s just too much.” — Louie Maglieri 

“I have a lot of elderly customers. I’m really not comfortable with this whole thing because there seems to be so much conflicting information. … I don’t really think anybody really knows what the hell the truth is about this,” Maglieri said. “If they do, they’re not sharing. So to me, money is not worth the health of people.”

Maglieri is also skeptical of the routine he would need to meet state and local standards.

“To sell a plate of spaghetti, I got to do like a NASA routine here. It’s just not even worth it to me anymore. My servers now become nurses, pretty much. They have to sanitize everything. I mean, we’re clean anyway, but it’d be just these extra precautions. It’s just too much. It’s just too much. I’m not handling this whole situation very well, honestly,” Maglieri said.

6 Responses

  1. Cheryl Paxton

    This is just so sad that people hurt others and don’t get caught. My heart goes out to both of them

    Reply
    • Kenneth B Snider

      God still loves these vandals, but we loathe them understandably. They will be judged by God at the end of their days for the entirety of their lives. I pray they will repent and sin no more.

      Reply
  2. Richard Valencia

    This is despicable. The owner is losing money and these miscreants add more misery to his situation. Deplorable!

    Reply
    • Kenneth B Snider

      God still loves these vandals, but we loathe them understandably. They will be judged by God at the end of their days for the entirety of their lives. I pray they will repent and sin no more.

      Reply
  3. Yezdyar Kaoosji

    A sad state of affairs and we must sympathize with the businessman for his losses. But the conflicting issues in the report are intriguing! At the beginning of the report, the restaurant owner praises the police for their vigilance and support! He then swings around and blames the Police for not ridding the city of the homeless whom he all but blames for the destruction. So, on second thoughts, this reads like an editorial calling for the forced removal of homeless people from Fresno while dressing up the article as a crime report! Homelessness is NOT a law and order problem, it is a social services issue. The City Council (not God!) needs to deal with it through the Social Services department and allocate funds to accomplish proper decisions!

    Reply
    • Fresno Citizen

      I think you are confused about the article; it is a story about two separate restaurants. The first, the owner is praising the police response and support, while the second restaurant owner is downtown and has a homeless tent camp behind his establishment and is frustrated with the police for not being proactive and removing the vagrants living there.

      Reply

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