After 4-year search, restaurant owner reunited with giant tomato 'loved by many'
'There are a lot of people who are rejoicing,' says Ontario restaurant owner Matt Kraft
It took four years, but the search for a giant tomato is finally over.
In 2016, someone stole an oversized decorative tomato from an East Side Mario's restaurant in Peterborough, Ontario.
"I know my tomato, Carol. It was my tomato," owner Matt Kraft told As It Happens host Carol Off. "It was pampered. It was loved by many and there are a lot of people who are rejoicing this week."
The case of the missing tomato was well-known in Kraft's community. People frequently asked Kraft whether he found it. Some sent him photos of "look-a-like" tomatoes they spotted at other restaurants.
But it was a morning runner who finally spotted the real deal.
"We found it right out in the open, in the middle of the park," Kraft said. "I got a call about 9 o'clock. They said, 'Hey! I think I found your tomato.'"
Kraft actually has two tomatoes outside his restaurant. The one that was stolen is slightly smaller than the one the thieves left behind, but it's still heavy and awkward to carry alone.
"The one that was lost, we call it the 'Little Brother.' It's about four or five feet in diameter," Kraft said.
He thinks the fruit bandits must have used a vehicle to getaway — and his theories don't end there.
"I picture it in someone's garage, sitting in the corner," Kraft said. "It was a great night. They got this tomato. Now what do we do with it?"
I think that criminals across the land have learned that, you know what? We don't mess with that tomato.- Matt Kraft, restaurant owner
Kraft says once news of the tomato theft broke, he suspects the pranksters probably started to get cold feet about their hot fruit.
"I can only imagine when they saw it on TV and radio and stuff, and they were like, 'Oh no. We've got this hot tomato. What are we doing to do with it?'" Kraft said.
Kraft says over the years guilt must have finally pushed them to make a drastic move.
"[They] were thinking I got to do something with that tomato. Someone is going to see it and turn me in," Kraft said. "I'm thinking in the dark of night they snuck it out of their garage, into a vehicle, [and] drove to the park."
Kraft knows the jogger who finally spotted the tomato in the park and has offered her a reward.
"We offered a dinner for four with all the fixings. It would have included some wine but, of course, now we're only open for takeout and delivery," Kraft said.
The tomato is already back in front of the restaurant next to its bigger brother. And Kraft says he isn't worried about anyone trying to prank him again.
"I don't think anybody is going to steal it," Kraft said. "I think that criminals across the land have learned that, you know what? We don't mess with that tomato."
Written by Tayo Bero and John McGill. Interview with Matt Kraft produced by Tayo Bero.