Chili Pepper Stolen From UF Student
GAINESVILLE - The man-sized red pepper from the Chilis on Archer Road, here in Gainesville was stolen. Not from the restaurant but from a UF student who acquired it after the location started its remodeling process. Tonight, I talked to this young man who is still looking for his prized possession.
Chilis restaurants across the country have been re-imaging their brand. "They were taking the chili down and at the time the new sign wasn't up. So we were thinking, oh no are they closing? But then when we went in it kind of smelled like paint and you could tell they were just re-doing it all,” said Ellen Toneff.
The Gainesville location right here in Archer Road went from something like this to this and with it came down its popular red hot chili pepper.
Daniel Helfrich and his girlfriend Ellen Toneff couldn't help but notice the changes during a lunch date. But one thing with a very distinct flavor caught their eye. Helfrich said, "And i asked the manager, hey what are you planning with that big chili out there. And he said he didn't have any plans with it. I was like if i should do it or not and ellen said do it, do it! Ask, ask!"
Helfrich wanted to ask about the chili and with some encouragement from his girlfriend, he did. The manager directed him to the renovators working outside. Helfrich said, "I asked them and i said if i brought you guys ice cream would you let me have the chili?" Toneff added, "And they're like we don't really want ice cream, we want some powerade or something to drink."
And they did just that, they traded a couple of powerades for this 200 pound, 5 foot, fiberglass pepper. "It started to rain, so we're hauling off the chili in the rain. Got it back here washed it off and we found out it couldn't fit through the door," Toneff said.
With the help of some neighbors and they decided they would pull the pepper to his balcony with ropes.
During the process the railing was about to break and without enough manpower the crew decided to wait it out. Victor Beguiristain a neighbor said, "We stored it behind my house, well behind my apartment cause I live on the first floor. And we were going to hoist it up to the third floor but it weighed too much. So we left it down there for a little while."
However the pepper didn't go more than two nights without disappearing. The pepper thief cut off the ropes and took off with it. Helfrich filed a police report on Tuesday. Helfrich said, "If you have seen my chili or know anyone with the chili or are in possession of the chili yourself, if you could bring it back, that would be lovely. Just leave it out over night we don't even know who did it. I'd just really like the chili back."
Helfrich is offering a chili's gift card as a reward for a successful return.
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