Aunt’s Gins restaurant in Whitefield, seen here Tuesday, where a portable generator was recently stolen. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

WHITEFIELD — Aunt Gin’s, like many restaurants in central Maine, are seeing a reduction in revenue due to coronavirus-related restriction.

A Monday theft made times a little tougher for the Whitefield eatery.

Aunt Gin’s co-owner Steve Dumas holds a cord that used to be plugged into a recently stolen portable generator during an interview Tuesday at the Whitefield restaurant. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Wyatt Shorey, one of the restaurant’s owners, said a 7,500-watt generator was stolen sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning. He said the power went out on Thursday and the generator was used to keep refrigeration units and an aquarium operating until Saturday, when power returned and service resumed.

After a successful take-out service on Easter Sunday, Shorey returned Monday to find the generator gone.

“At some point we’re going to have to replace it,” he said. “We have to have it as a backup.”

Shorey, who also co-owns Otto’s on the River in Augusta, said his restaurant has received great community support during the coronavirus outbreak, but a lot of potential customers may be out of work and can only afford to eat out rarely. Replacing the generator, he said, just compounds with the struggles of their take-out only model.

“Our business is down at least 90%. Otto’s on the River is closed. We’re just trying to hang on,” Shorey said. “We’ve got these government grants that are supposed to be coming. We just can’t keep going on what we’re making for take out.”

He said the power went out briefly Monday due to high wind, but the restaurant just went without electricity for a bit with no generator.

Shorey said the restaurant’s location, fairly far from other properties and on a main road, made the generator an easy target for the theft. Shorey said he reported the crime to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, but he’s not holding out hope for the generator’s return.

“We don’t have security cameras outside,” he said. “That will, of course, be the next step.”

Kennebec County Sheriff’s Lt. Brendan Kane said the generator is valued at $800 and the incident is still under investigation. Anyone with information related to the crime is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 832-7332.

Shorey said a Facebook post written about the theft has been viewed more than 35,000 times.

“If you see a neighbor who is using a ‘new to them’ 7,500-watt generator, ask them how they acquired it,” the post reads. “I would ask ‘what else can go wrong?’ But I’m afraid I’d find out! But the good news is they left behind the gas can.”

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