Late Saturday night, November 4th, the owners of Woodhouse Vegan Cafe received a Ring Camera notification, showing an adult male wearing cargo shorts and an OSU shirt, urinating on some of their equipment that was on their back patio. After he was done, he looked around for cameras, then rummaged through some items.
In the video, you can see him grabbing a metal cart and saying, “I want this cart.” Along with the cart, he stole a folding table, restaurant shoes, plus some other items, including “a pair of Croc’s covered in vegan cheese,” said Cara Woodhouse. He spent thirty minutes looking at their items they had stacked up to prepare to move to their Short North location. A police report was filed, and the Ring footage was posted on Woodhouse’s Instagram.
Video Footage courtesy of Woodhouse Vegan Cafe
“It looks like he probably lives in the neighborhood, obviously intoxicated, and couldn’t wait to get home to pee and decided to roll onto our backyard patio and pee all over everything,” Woodhouse said. “Honestly, it’s not even just the items that were stolen… it’s the blatant audacity of hearing him on camera say ‘I want this cart’ and then just taking it…It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
The next evening, someone else stole eight expensive pots from their back patio space, as well.
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This isn’t new for Woodhouse Vegan, unfortunately.
Cara Woodhouse emphasized that she and her co-owner/sister, Nicole, tried to put a large fence around their back patio, but that the Italian Village Commissioner denied their request. They brought in photo ideas and even had a fence expert to help plead their case that they need a semblance of privacy for their restaurant, but they were only granted permission for a waist-high fence.
This didn’t keep people out. “We’ve dealt with this on a regular basis, sadly,” said Woodhouse. “We’ve caught people [defecating] out there, peeing, sleeping, and even drinking beers out there” after-hours, when they’re closed. One time, they caught a person via Ring stealing a huge potted plant, and the dirt trail from the pot led them straight up to her close-by apartment.
“The larger picture is how difficult it is for small businesses to succeed in a neighborhood that doesn’t support them,” confided Woodhouse. “When we were deciding to stay in Italian Village or move permanently to our Short North bakery location, we realized it wasn’t worth staying in Italian Village.”
They’re now transitioning full time to their Short North spot at 19 W. Russell Street, which they’re extremely excited about. They opened their bakery along with Park Service Coffee there a year ago, and they’ve already started consolidating their Italian Village cafe and Short North bakery spaces.
“Our dream spot to be at was Italian Village at first – we loved that it had a grittier feel than the Short North, and it seemed more progressive, and so we really enjoyed the couple of years we were there. But as soon as we rented the Short North space, we thought, ‘Wow, this is how it feels to be treated like a small business!’ We feel more welcome in terms of how easy it’s been to get things passed. It’s been so great to work with our new landlord. It feels like things have progressed already to the point where things need to be for us. Every year matters, and we’re very excited about the move,” explained Woodhouse.
For now, you can show your support for Woodhouse by stopping by for coffee and sweet + savory pastries Tuesdays through Sundays, 8am-2pm, at 19 W. Russell Street. In a couple of weeks, they’ll offer their iconic lunch, and then they’ll slowly start incorporating their popular dinner offerings. Stay tuned and follow their Instagram for official re-opening details!
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