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Long Struggling Already Amid Pandemic, Al & Joe's Deli In Franklin Park Has Its Tip Jar Stolen

FRANKLIN PARK, Ill. (CBS) -- Tip jars are a difference-maker for many – especially during the pandemic.

So imagine the shock and disappointment at a Franklin Park restaurant when someone up and snatched their tip jar.

CBS 2's Meredith Barack on Monday night had a first look at the poacher and the impact the theft has had on the employees.

Al & Joe's Home of the Submarine, at 10348 Addison Ave. in Franklin Park, has been in operation since 1960. The owner said the tip jar has only been stolen one other time.

But after Saturday's theft of the tip jar that used to sit on the counter, employees are left feeling angry and disappointed after such a difficult year.

"Because nobody's working in the offices right now, we're losing all of that lunch business," said owner Joe Gapastione, son of co-founder Joe Sr. "Business has been down as much as 35, 40 percent."

Like so many restaurants, Al & Joe's has been dealt a hard blow during the pandemic.

"This has probably been the most difficult time for Al & Joe's since our inception," Gapastione said.

And on Saturday, things went from bad to worse. During the busy noon rush, video caught someone helping themselves to the deli's tip jar.

The footage shows the thief slipping it right into their bag - and right out the front door.

Al & Joe's Tip Jar Theft
(Credit: Al & Joe's)

"I went to go put a tip in the tip jar, which we keep up on the counter at the front - and the tip jar was gone," Gapastione said, "and my first response was, 'Hey, where'd the tip jar go?'"

Gapastione estimates there was close to $200 inside. It was money that would have gone to his employees - like the teen who works to help his mom after they lost his dad to cancer, and the single mom raising two little kids.

"My employees are the key to our success. Without them, we are nothing," Gapastione said. "They are the ones, even though I'm here all the time, they are the ones that are interacting. They're the ones that develop relationships with customers."

Since the theft, Al & Joe's has seen an overwhelming amount of support from those very customers.

"It's amazing, just amazing, how responsive people can be," Gapastione said.

While Gapastione recognizes how good others can be, he hopes someone recognizes the person who made this bad decision and turns them in.

Al & Joe's Tip Jar Theft Surveillance Image
(Credit; Al & Joe's)

"I really hope you needed it, because you've taken it away from people that do need it," he said.

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