Minneapolis restaurant owner: With crime unchecked, nobody’s coming 

"They’re afraid, they’re scared," a Minneapolis restaurant owner told Alpha News as reservations in the city dropped by more than 50% last month.

Rob Dubnecay, owner of Chicago's Taste Authority, talks with Alpha News reporter Liz Collin. (Alpha News)

A Minneapolis restaurant owner is speaking out after becoming the victim of a crime.  He told Alpha News his profits are down 40% from where they were pre-COVID and the George Floyd riots.

Rob Dubnecay owns Chicago’s Taste Authority at 42nd and Hiawatha.

He told Alpha News journalist Liz Collin about what happened on the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 10 when he was ringing up a customer and looked out the window.

“I noticed a dark SUV stopped next to a red SUV and I thought, ‘That’s odd, why is a vehicle stopped in a moving lane?’ And I noticed the driver was wearing a ski mask and I thought, ‘Why is that driver wearing a ski mask and why is the driver of the red SUV wearing a ski mask?’ And then I realize that’s my SUV,” he said.

He said it all happened within seconds.

“Before I even get to the door it drives off. When I come back and look, it was 17 seconds it took for them to get in it and drive away,” Dubnecay said.

He called police and wondered how the suspects stole his locked SUV so fast.

“I just went to Google and searched, ‘How do I steal a Dodge without a key?’” he said. “Here’s 2,000 videos and one gentleman who demonstrates how to steal a Dodge in 17 seconds with a box he buys for five or 600 bucks online.”

Rob Dubnecay’s Chicago’s Taste Authority in south Minneapolis. (Alpha News)

When Minneapolis police responded, the restaurant owner was told his was the ninth report of a stolen car that day with the same suspect description: two black males between 13 and 17, in ski masks, driving a dark SUV.

“The next day we’re called and it’s in St. Paul impound at about four in the afternoon and we’re told it’s been involved in about a dozen or 14 other carjackings or car crimes,” Dubnecay said.

Dubnecay showed Alpha News the damage to his vehicle, including a sideswipe mark and damaged rims. The kids who stole it took his personal information from the glove compartment and his garage door opener.

Credit cards belonging to a stranger were also left behind.

Dubnecay believes they may be a clue to help police connect some stolen cars and make arrests.

But the impound lot told him police wouldn’t bother dusting for fingerprints due to a lack of manpower.

In fact, 10 days later and Dubnecay’s case has yet to be assigned to an investigator.

He told us he’s been exploring his options.

“I’ve thought about moving. I’ve thought about selling, but who the hell is going to buy a restaurant in south Minneapolis? Number two, it’s going to cost me 100 to 150 grand to move the mechanical. So, I’m stuck. I rent this place; I don’t own it and I got no place to move to, so I’ve got to fend for myself and do what I can do,” he said.

For now, that means feeding as many people as he can get in the door, even if it’s for a more local crowd.

“50% of our business comes from the suburbs or outlying because we are specific with our food. They’re not coming,” Dubnecay said.

According to OpenTable data, restaurant reservations in Minneapolis were down nearly 55% on average last month. That means Minneapolis has had “the worst recovery of any city in the world,” a Fox News report said.

“They’re afraid, they’re scared,” Dubnecay commented. “The city council, the mayor, they make laws, they make decisions, and they don’t worry about the fallout later is what I’m running into.”

Dubnecay pointed to a random health inspection at his restaurant that seemed to only underscore his point.

“[The health inspector] comes in yesterday and tells me I can no longer put cut bread in a black plastic bag because it needs to go into a white plastic bag because white’s not for trash. He said, ‘I don’t know why.’ This is what Minneapolis cares about, yet they’re stealing two dozen cars in a day or two and they don’t give a hoot,” he said.

“I never thought I would sit here after 28 years and literally live watch my car get stolen right in front of me and be told, ‘Sorry, best we can do,’” he added.


Liz Collin

Liz Collin has been a truth-teller for 20 years as a multi-Emmy-Award-winning reporter and anchor. Liz is a Worthington, Minnesota native who lives in the suburbs with her husband, son and loyal lab.