Bears hit the bar … and food pantry |

Bears hit the bar … and food pantry

Griffin Rogers
Bears broke into a food pantry for the needy and a local bar -- eating drinking and being merry.
File photo courtesy BEAR League |

A favorite watering hole of South Lake Tahoe locals also became an instant hit with a family of bears this week, particularly the bar’s supply of grenadine and crème de menthe.

The red syrup and mint-flavored liqueur were strewn all over the place at the Flight Deck Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday morning. Three bears that have been spotted meandering near the property before have been labeled as the primary suspects.

“Yesterday was like our spring cleaning,” co-owner Diane Miller said Thursday.

The bears didn’t do much damage, but they did leave quite the mess.

Miller said the animals appeared to have come in through a back window on the deck sometime after the bar closed at 9:30 p.m., but before the first person arrived Wednesday morning around 8.

From the chaos left behind, it appeared the bears hit the bar first before moving to the walk-in pantry and sampling some tomatoes.

The restaurant and bar, located inside the Lake Tahoe Airport, was closed until the mess was cleaned up and the health department confirmed that everything was sanitary, Miller said.

“It’s just one of those things you have to deal with here in Tahoe,” she said. “I’m just glad we were able to clean it up so quickly.”

The bear raid occurred about 24 hours after a mother bear and two cubs were suspected of ransacking Christmas Cheer All Year, a charity and local food bank located on 3rd Street in South Lake Tahoe.

Co-director Joanne Shope got a call from the charity’s alarm company about 6 a.m. Tuesday morning warning her that the alarm was sounding. Police responded and found three bears walking away from the building.

“They destroyed the window screen and the blinds,” Shope said. “The space wasn’t big enough for the mama bear to get in, so she must have set the cubs in, and they had a ball.”

The animals mostly targeted the refrigerator and perishable foods, such as raspberries, lettuce and corn.

Shope said it took four people about three hours to clean up the mess.

“We were using a snow shovel as a dust pan because there was so much stuff,” she said.

Despite the incident, Shope emphasized that Christmas Cheer still has plenty of food for the people who need it, but the charity is looking for produce donations to help replenish its lost stock.

Both Flight Deck and Christmas Cheer are now taking extra precautions following the break-ins. The restaurant and bar upgraded its security system Wednesday, and Christmas Cheer now has someone watching the property throughout the night.

That “guard” scared away a mother bear and two cubs early Wednesday morning.

It has been said that bears eat between 25,000 to 35,000 calories per day in preparation for hibernation. For this reason, experts advise residents to keep their food, doors and windows locked up tight during the pre-winter season.

“We survived our bear invasion,” Shope said.

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