It was a stroke of ingenuity, one of many that bar and restaurant owners are deploying right now: A delivery truck with five kegs of beer and hard cider inside, dispatching food and cocktails from the Huntington bar the Rust & Gold, as well as filling pints and growlers from beer taps mounted on its side.
The truck's deployment should have been the highlight of a brighter week for Rust & Gold owners Lou Cohen, Frank Antonetti and Jay Janawsky, who had reopened their sports bar for the first time in months for takeout and delivery. Instead, the week turned into a roller coaster.
The Rust & Gold sent the truck out for its initial run on Tuesday filled with beer from Sand City Brewing Co., Sloop Brewing Co. and a few others. "The idea was that we would use the truck for food deliveries, and you could also get the freshest beer possible," Antonetti said, plus cocktails such as barrel-aged old fashioneds, strawberry-melon margaritas and frosé. (Alcohol takeout and delivery has been legalized in New York state since mid-March, as long as food is part of the order)
The second day was going off without a hitch when, on Wednesday at 8:45 p.m., the owners left the truck idling outside the bar, to keep the kegs cold for another route, Antonetti said.
When he went back outside to retrieve something from the truck, it was gone. At first, Antonetti thought his partner was playing a joke on him. "You ever have that feeling when you can't find your car in a parking lot, and you think it was stolen?" he said. "This time, it was. It was a little bit of panic and sadness."
The bar owners filed a report with the Second Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department and deliberated whether to announce the heist to the bar's 8,000-plus Instagram followers on Instagram. They did, on Thursday morning. "Hey everyone, we have some tough news," read the post, along with a picture of the white truck, which belonged to a business partner of Janawsky's. "Last night the beer truck was stolen from in front of Rust."
Soon after, Antonetti said, one of the bar's regulars got in touch to say she'd seen the truck idling next to her on Main Street in Huntington shortly around 9 p.m. the night it disappeared. Later that day, more news arrived: The truck had been found in an empty parking lot in Huntington Station, though battered and with one tire worn down to the rim. Antonetti said eyewitnesses reported to police that a group of young men had returned to the truck over a few hours, bearing containers and backpacks to fill with beer. "Though they only kicked two of the five kegs we had active," Antonetti said.
On Friday afternoon, Antonetti said an arrest had been made, though that was unconfirmed by the Second Precinct.
The truck is being fixed up at the 9th Street Auto Collision in Huntington Station, and Antonetti hopes it will be back in action by the end of next week, delivering burgers, wings, and sandwiches, plus plenty of cold beer. (For now, a less high-profile vehicle is handling deliveries.)
The Rust & Gold, 70 Gerard St., Huntington. 631-629-4431. therustandgold.com