By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
EAST VILLAGE — Bessie the cow has gone missing from her perch outside a bovine-named Australian pub on Avenue C — and the plastic mascot's owners are offering $500 for her safe return.
The orange-and-black heifer that hung for years outside Aussie-themed bar the Sunburnt Cow, near East 9th Street, was stolen by an unknown thief on Oct. 17, leading staff to post fliers around the neighborhood seeking the bovine sculpture's whereabouts.
"For five years Bessie the Sunburnt Cow has lit the way for party people and seekers of great Australian food & booze. A tiny landmark, a bright light on a once dark street," reads a flier that has been pasted around the neighborhood with a $500 reward for the cow's rescue.
"The evil cownappers have made no ransom demands or made any contact as yet."
The bar's owner explained that in addition to beckoning patrons to the space — the 2-foot-tall cow was lit up at night — Bessie had sentimental value for staff and regulars.
"We haven't seen or heard from her," said Heathe St. Clair, 42, the Sunburnt Cow's owner, noting that Bessie was "tattooed" by regular customers who were invited to add their own signatures to the cow. "We're scratching our heads right now for what we're going to do."
But this isn't the first time Bessie has disappeared.
Another cow that hung outside the bar when it opened in 2003 mysteriously vanished, and her replacement was swiped earlier this year but turned up in a nearby garden.
While the flier is written with a cheeky tone — describing Bessie as having a "medium build, white hair, black eyes, plastic skin" — the business of brining her back is serious, St. Clair said.
"Get on the Internet and try to find a little cow that lights up," he said of trying to replace Bessie. "It's not easy, mate. I have two people working on it."
He added that the bar's other novelty items, like the comic-book style menus it used to carry, have also been stolen in the past.
"People just take what they want — that's the way it is," St. Clair said, noting that nicking Bessie would have required a little extra guile, since she was bolted to the bar's exterior.
St. Clair is particularly peeved because Bessie often brought customers in due to her orange glow. And even though the bar's regulars are upset by the loss, often asking for updates on Bessie's status, the staff "will soldier on," St. Clair added.
"We are Australian," he said. "We're not going to freak out too much about it."