Sure, people pinch pint glasses. There have been customers who tried to steal artwork right off the walls.
“If it’s not nailed down they take it,” said Frazier’s on the Avenue owner Morgan King Sr. “I guess that’s part of the problem with getting people drunk.”
But to King’s knowledge, this week was the first time in Frazier’s 84-year history that someone has been brazen enough — or possibly drunk enough — to nab one of their barstools and walk out the door into the night air of Hampden’s W. 36th Street.
King, who has co-owned the bar with his brother since 2013, was at home at the time of the alleged theft, which took place Tuesday around 1 a.m. As he often does, he checked a camera monitor he has on his phone to see if Frazier’s was busy.
He happened to tune in at the precise moment that someone wearing a backpack picked up one of the stools and walked out the door. “It was so ballsy,” King said. “She didn’t try to hide it.” A customer noticed and told the bartender, who chased her out of the door, but she sped off with a friend in a car.
However, the suspected stool thief had paid with a credit card, and staff had a name.
A post from the Frazier’s Facebook page Tuesday was addressed “to the person(s) who stole one of our stools last night.” The message, which caught the attention of multiple local media outlets, began with a “good cop’s” sympathetic tone.
“I get it. They’re great! Handmade by the Amish to custom fit our bar. … Here’s the thing … it was not yours to take and we’ve got the video. A few of them, actually! (And your credit card info).”
Then, a deadline: “You’ve got until Friday to leave it outside before we’re forced to post the videos.”
The message was written by Juliet Ames, the Baltimore crafter behind the city’s decorated salt boxes and a Frazier’s regular. Ames handles all the social media for the bar in exchange for food and drink. “It’s my secret identity,” she said. In writing the post, she wanted to give the culprit a chance to make it right. “We’ve all done dumb things after having a bunch of drinks at Frazier’s,” she said.
Or not so dumb things. Ames’s yearslong effort to decorate the city’s salt boxes, which has been written up in The New Yorker and featured this week on “Good Morning America,” came about at the bar.
“Salt boxes were actually a drunk Frazier’s idea,” she said.
Watching the stool scene transpire from his home in Hampden, “I laughed, to be honest with you,” King said, calling it a “silly thing to take.” Was the alleged culprit crazy? Drunk? Was it on a dare? Or maybe a bucket list item? “There’s nothing really spectacular about these stools,” he said.
Yet as far as barstools go, they are kind of special. They were custom-made by Amish woodcrafters to be taller to match the extra-high bar of Frazier’s side room, called the “small bar.”
And they have had at least one famous butt atop them: that of actor Josh Charles. The Baltimore native and “The Good Wife” star sat on one while filming a scene for the HBO series “We Own This City,” based on the book of the same name by Baltimore Banner reporter Justin Fenton.
“That was a lot of fun, by the way,” King said of the shoot.
King played the bartender in a scene during which Charles, as the corrupt Baltimore City police officer Daniel Hersl, eats a plate of chicken wings, licking his fingers before offering his hand to shake. (Grotesque as Charles’s portrayal of Hersl may have been, in real life, King says, Charles “was fantastic. In between takes he was a regular guy.”)
King doesn’t know what seat Charles sat in, but he does know which one was stolen. He’s thinking of putting a plaque on it to commemorate the theft — and its return.
“Not a hair on its head” was out of place, said bar patron Tony Miller on Wednesday afternoon as he nursed a Natty Boh from a glass. It “came back in one piece.”
The chair appeared outside Frazier’s sometime Wednesday morning. It was by the door when dishwasher Kimberly Miller showed up to mop the floors around 6:30 a.m. “I laughed,” she said. “Almost walked into it.”
She was glad to see the stool returned to her employer. “Frazier’s is the best place on The Avenue,” Miller said.
Ames, the crafter, said she won’t make a salt box to mark the event she termed “stoolgate,” but added, “I might make stickers.”