View Full Version : Restauranteurs and Crime Experts - help?

08-09-2010, 04:28 PM
Jurisdiction: US city - yet to be determined - if there's a specific state that would help give me a realistic outcome, let me know!

I'm trying to set up a situation where it looks like a character is using his restaurant as a front for some sort of illegal activity, but his actions are eventually shown to be innocent. I'd like whatever the 'evidence' is to be enough for police to get a search warrant, so it has to be pretty compelling.

Any suggestions?

A few more details, in case they're needed: The owner has a shady past, but is trying to clean up his act. He somehow makes friends with a cop, and I want the cop to see something that makes him sure the owner is back to his old ways. I'm open to pretty much any crime, but it should be something pretty serious, enough to make the cop feel that he has to betray his friend. (The cop should believe that the friend betrayed him first, by engaging in the criminal activity)

And I need the cop to report what he saw, and for that report to be used to get a search warrant. It would be best if the warrant was for the whole premises, including the apartment in which the owner lives, above the restaurant - does anyone know if this would be believable?

Thanks very much for any help!

08-09-2010, 05:31 PM
Hm, will have a think, but for now, I'll just point out that the word is 'restaurateur' (no 'N' before the last T). :)

Maybe he hosts a speed-dating that looks like an escort front? Or maybe something to do with his supplies, maybe he doesn't know that the supplier he buys from is a bad guy....

08-09-2010, 06:41 PM
Wow. No 'n'. I defend myself by saying that some on-line dictionaries are showing the 'n' as an acceptable optional spelling, but...yeah. Your way is definitely preferred.

I honestly never even thought about spelling it without an 'n'.

And, back to the main issue - I like the supplier idea, but because my owner (my restaurateur, if you please) is an ex-shady character, I think he might be pretty savvy about that sort of thing. Doesn't mean that he couldn't be aware of who he's dealing with and chose not to care, I suppose, but there'd have to be something pretty clear going on in order for there to be a warrant issued, and I think a savvy owner would pick up on that before it became obvious. I think.

It might work if the shady supplier was an old friend from the owner's criminal days - so he'd know there was probably something fishy, but he'd turn a blind eye b/c the guy was a friend. Hmmmm....

08-09-2010, 09:57 PM
Do you have a character who has it in for your restaurateur? A lot of SWs get issued based on information from CIs (Confidential Informants). So, you could have someone trying to frame/undermine your restaurateur who either himself or pays an informant to go to the cop friend and say "He's laundering money" or something. You'd need some corroboration, most judges won't issue a SW based only on a CI, but you could have the restaurateur walking about with a bag of cash (because he doesn't trust banks or whatever) but it looks like dodgy money. So, pop, you have your SW.

08-09-2010, 11:01 PM
Yeah, that might almost be enough. Like, if the cop friend saw inside the restaurateur's safe and saw a LOT of cash...

There's no super-valuable food that looks like drugs, is there? Like, I know saffron's super-valuable, but is it 'lock it in a safe' valuable? And it doesn't really look like any drugs that I know of, I don't think...

Is there anything else that could be in the safe that would look suspicious, besides cash? A gun, I guess, but the cop could check if the guy had a permit for that, right? And if he did, it wouldn't be a big deal...

Any thoughts, anyone?

08-09-2010, 11:48 PM


If you had a large (at all) amount of good truffles, you'd want them in a safe.

Maybe a cop would assume they were shrooms, being in a safe and all? I could see it.

08-10-2010, 01:18 AM
I thought about truffles, but I found them for $50 a pound, here: http://www.gourmetstore.com/shop-online/BLACK_TRUFFLES_R46.cgi

Which, okay, pricey, but not exactly requiring a safe, I wouldn't think. I agree, though, the resemblance to 'shrooms is pretty clear!

08-10-2010, 01:30 AM
If he's in Arizona they could try to bust him for hiring illegal aliens.

08-10-2010, 01:40 AM
I thought about truffles, but I found them for $50 a pound, here: http://www.gourmetstore.com/shop-online/BLACK_TRUFFLES_R46.cgi

Which, okay, pricey, but not exactly requiring a safe, I wouldn't think. I agree, though, the resemblance to 'shrooms is pretty clear!

I worked at a French restaurant and ours were special, imported from France. Incredibly pricey (and undried). You'd be surprised how much theft goes on in restaurants, even before e-bay became so popular.

Yeah, if I had a big jar of those, I'd lock them up. But it depends on what the readers would think.

08-10-2010, 01:50 AM
Well, I could give it a little backstory, maybe, explaining why they're extra special. But I've never seen 'shrooms in a jar - did you guys take the truffles out of the jar for storage? And were they in some sort of oil, or...?

08-10-2010, 02:01 AM
I've only seen dried shrooms, too :ROFL: But I know folks out west who get fresh ones. I don't know if they still resemble truffles, though.

Our truffles were plain and fresh. But the chef stored them in oil after about a week, I think it was, if they weren't all used up yet. The oil got kind of black-looking, and he used that, and the oil-truffles cut up, in sauces. Often with new, fresh truffles shaved or thinly sliced on top.

08-11-2010, 01:22 AM
If it was a bar rather than a restaurant, you could have someone claim he's pushing drugs to his patrons. I had a friend who owned a popular bar and the county drug task force was sure he was distributing drugs through his bar.

I knew he used a variety of drugs occasionally (it turned out he used a lot more than I realized), but I was sure he wasn't the source of drugs for the city as the task force thought. I told the head of the task force where to look (in fact the main distributer for the city was a member of a well-known restaurateur family in town. The head of the task force and the assistant DA refused to believe me. Several years later, The guy (the real distributer) was involved in a shooting, and his victim spilled the beans about his drug dealing activities. It shocked the whole city, except me and a number of other cops who knew about him.

Anyway, the task force tried several times to sting my friend, and failed, because he wasn't selling the stuff. Then they tried to close his bar for a number of petty violations, just because they couldn't get him on the drug charges. He ended up selling the bar to keep from being harassed.

08-11-2010, 02:31 AM
Dean & Deluca has truffles, in season, that sell for $4,000 a pound. Of course, they're very very pungent, so a $200 truffle the size of a large gumball could be shaved paper-thin over dozens of plates of food.

There used to be a nightclub here in Atlanta that was known for pouring cheap, strong drinks. The feds investigated because the revenue reported didn't match up with the volume of liquor purchased from the distributor.

The very high cover charge paid the bills; they broke even on the notorious cocktails.

"Restaurateur" derives from the French word for one who restores or refreshes; a place where one goes to be restored is a "restaurant." (This clearly from a time when the only reason anyone would eat a meal in a public place was because they were travelling.)

08-11-2010, 08:16 AM
RJK - there could at least be a bar portion of the restaurant, for sure...thanks for the suggestions!

And $4 000 for a pound of truffles - yeah, that sounds more like it! Do you know what they look like? Would they be dried, for that price, or still fresh and uncut?

08-11-2010, 10:17 AM
Sweeney Todd comes to mind. Perhaps he sells suspiciously tasty pies...?

08-11-2010, 12:23 PM
Wine? The cop could see what he thinks are forged labels from really expensive bottles of wine. He thinks that his friend is sticking them on really cheap bottles and selling them at the price of the expensive stuff. he warrant would be for the whole building as they hope to find all the cheap wine and the forged labels. Of course what the cop sees are the labels - but what he does not realize/see is that they are intended to be used as loyalty cards (or something) - you know buy five glasses, get your card stamped five times and get a free glass...

08-11-2010, 02:55 PM
And $4 000 for a pound of truffles - yeah, that sounds more like it! Do you know what they look like? Would they be dried, for that price, or still fresh and uncut?

The ones I saw for $4,000 a pound (probably half that wholesale) were about the size of ping-pong balls and kept in a refrigerated case.

When you get into the larger truffles, the price goes through the roof. This was from 2007:


An unusually large white truffle sold Saturday for $330,000 US, a new world record.
Macau billionaire Stanley Ho bought the 1.5-kilogram fungal delicacy at a charity auction held simultaneously in London, Florence and Macau.

In 2008, a truffle half that size sold for $31,000.

Usually restaurants that have fresh truffles make a big deal about it and put them on ridiculously expensive menu items. Here's a list from LA in 2008:


I could see a restaurant owner with a list of wealthy clientele having an invitation-only dinner to showcase the giant truffle, and not wanting anyone to know that he's got it until that night.

Truffle season is in the fall. The auctions of the really enormous truffles tend to be in late November and early December.

08-11-2010, 04:15 PM
I'm liking the giant truffle action...thanks, guys!

08-11-2010, 07:33 PM
Oh, yes, the truffle dishes were quite expensive where I worked ;)

Now y'all can understand the drama of an incident that happened. Elderly lady came in alone. Ordered something that could do well with a shaving. She'd never had them before. Oh! Well, let's let her have a taste first and then she can decide.

We always did the cool thing and brought out a big one to shave -- impressive, you see. In this case, it was the manager doing his truffle thang. Brought out the big one on a plate...

She popped it in her mouth!!

The whole thing.

He about swallowed his tongue :D :D

08-14-2010, 06:51 AM
it would also be fun to have him hosting a VIP cooking class in the late night/early morning hours - lots of comings and goings in the middle of the night when the restaurant is supposedly closed.

08-14-2010, 06:41 PM
Late-night shenanigans! I like it...