ROGERS PARK — For the second time since October, favorite Rogers Park brunch spot The Growling Rabbit was burglarized, leaving a bad "taste" in owner Laura Soncrant's mouth as she prepares to move the business slightly south to Edgewater this summer.
"Even with all other safety features in place, I just can't afford to lose [money] again," Soncrant said. "And as we're going into an expansion, it makes that loss all the much more great."
Soncrant said when she arrived at her store early Saturday morning before open, she noticed a cold breeze coming from one area of the store. That's when she discovered multiple glass doors and windows broken and cash missing.
Soncrant said though she'd been through this just a few months ago, this crime seemed to feel much more personal and targeted than the October smash-and-grab.
"It was so calculated, they knew what they were doing, they knew where to find it," she said, adding it appeared as if whoever was in her store was there for "some time," not a short while.
"I think that's what is the most unnerving to me."
She called 911, twice, and district police directly, but ended up waiting an hour before police arrived, according to Soncrant.
Police spokesman Officer Jose Estrada confirmed the burglary in the 6900 block of North Sheridan Road between 9 p.m. and the time the owner discovered broken doors early the next morning.
The bakery and breakfast spot announced last week it was picking up its Rogers Park business and moving to the former St. Andrew's Inn at 5938-40 North Broadway in Edgewater in order to expand into a brunch pub, having outgrown its current location.
Though crime in the neighborhood was never among her reasons for leaving the corner of Sheridan and Lunt, Soncrant said Saturday's break-in was the "last straw."
"I just didn't think enough has happened in the last 4½ years to convince me that staying was a really great idea, but more importantly I feel really kind of good about my decision to move a few blocks south — and that saddens me," Soncrant said.
Soncrant said she and her employees regularly see drug dealing and other illegal activity in the Rabbit's immediate vicinity. Employees have witnessed shootings, and drug dealers had even scared away patio customers so they had a regular space to congregate at one point.
Soncrant said she felt her presence as a successful business owner in the neighborhood was a way to stand up against crime, and though she regularly brought crime-related issues up with Ald. Joe Moore (49th) and other community leaders, she did not consider it a factor for her move. Moore, business groups and Realtors all offered support in trying to help her stay in the neighborhood.
But now, she said she knows she's made the right decision to move to Edgewater.
She will always have a special place in her heart for Rogers Park and hopes many of her customers will make the short trip to North Broadway to eat at the Rabbit's newer, and bigger space.
"I don't feel as guilty about moving south anymore, and that's the part I think that makes me more mad about any of it," she said. "I didn't expect to have to leave Rogers Park with this taste in my mouth."
Moore could not be reached for comment Sunday.
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