Published: 12:09, 15 April 2021
| Updated: 12:25, 15 April 2021
A newly-opened restaurant in Canterbury city centre has fallen victim to a brazen cash theft just days after its launch.
CCTV footage shows a man, who was pretending to be a customer, pinching cash from a tip jar at the No.35 restaurant in St Margaret's Street.
He pocketed £15 as staff prepared his fake order at about 4.20pm yesterday.
Upon realising what had happened, owner Anna Carpenter chased the thief and confronted him outside - only for him to make off with the money.
"It's not about the amount he took, it's just he's taken money from my staff given by the generosity of our customers," the 52-year-old said.
"You can see him clocking the tip jar in the footage. He had a good look around and knew the wines were behind the other bar and that's why he asked to look at a bottle as he knew it mean he'd be left unattended.
"Yes, we made a mistake having notes in the jar but we didn't think anyone would come and take them.
"I ran down the street and confronted him, but what could I really do? I had no back-up and he said I was lying.
"He said 'search me' but there was no way I was going to touch him.
"If he did that at half the restaurants in Canterbury, he'd end up with quite a few bob at the end of the day."
No.35 welcomed its first customers on Monday having bucked the downward trend for hospitality businesses and launched during the pandemic.
Most of the staff - including Miss Carpenter - are from the former high street cafe Boho, which closed for good last year.
"The year after I became manager at Boho it went into liquidation, we were all very disappointed because we worked so hard and, through no fault of our own, the business didn't survive," Miss Carpenter said.
"It made me determined to get a restaurant of my own and I only wanted to do it if all the guys who worked there with me were on board.
"They were absolutely for it and we started sorting it."
Having taken on the former Canterbury Tails fish and chip shop, the team worked flat-out to convert the store into a restaurant only for Kent to be plunged into Tier 4 and then into lockdown.
After running home deliveries and takeaways in recent months, Monday marked the first time customers could dine in the garden of the St Margaret's Street eatery.
Offering a 'fusion' menu of dishes from around the world - whether it be Korean, Argentinian, Hawaiian or English - No.35 is already proving popular.
"The feedback has already been amazing, and I cannot see how we can't be successful," Miss Carpenter added.
"We've put our heart and soul into it.
"We call ourselves a family-run business as we've become a family. When getting started, my staff worked continually for five months, from painting skirting boards to cooking, without expecting to be paid.
"The loyalty of this team and belief in what we're trying to achieve, out of a business which didn't survive, is amazing.
"If we do get anything wrong, we'll change it immediately and evolve over time."
To help see the business through its opening stages, the landlord reduced rent between January and March, and has fully frozen the bill for April through to July.
Miss Carpenter says all of the produce at No.35 is sourced from Kent and she will soon be looking for more staff members.
Police have been made aware of yesterday's cash theft.
"The staff deserved those tips, so for someone to just come and steal them has been a real blow for them," Miss Carpenter said.
"They have been reimbursed but it has left us all feeling disheartened after what was a really great day."
The force has been contacted for comment.