My Northern Wisconsin

Covering Ashland, Iron, Lincoln, Oneida, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Vilas Counties


Please note:  We made the photos a larger size.  Read between the photos and through the bottom of the page for the full article.

Imagine if your dream was to open a restaurant in a small town that you love.  You and your spouse not only devote your money, but your time, to revitalize old buildings to turn them into a place where community members can enjoy a fine dining experience.  Small setbacks happen, and you overcome them, always looking forward to making your dream a reality.

One room of the restaurant before the vandalism.  Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

Just when your dream gets so close to reality, a nightmare happens.  Your nearly-finished business property gets vandalized on Easter morning.  The vandalism is not small.  It's not "just" a broken window or "just" one wall splashed with paint.  The vandalism is extensive, throughout the building, and amounts to over $50,000 in damages.

This nightmare was the reality for Tammy and Jason Hastings on Easter morning.

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

According to Tammy, at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 9, 2023, she found the back door of their restaurant open.  "There were five gallon buckets of paint and concrete stain spilled out on the brand new acid-stained floor and thrown on all the walls.  I went to get Jason, and we went to the front where we were shocked to find the door broken in."

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

The three forward-facing windows were all busted with glass spewing outside onto the sidewalk.

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

"Once inside, we saw the fireplace we built had been destroyed."  The vandal had kicked it in and ripped out the mechanics."

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

Tammy added that everything in the restaurant is custom-made by local businesses from the table tops to the beverage cabinet.  "A table top had been picked up and thrown through a window.  The beverage cabinet was picked up and knocked over, the doors ripped off and thrown through the front windows and drive-thru.  It was heart-breaking to see all of this custom work destroyed."

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

Photo by:  Tammy Hastings

Tammy and Jason immediately called the Park Falls Police Department.  According to Chief of Police Marvin Nevelier, "Officers responded and began to conduct an investigation, and later obtained video evidence from a surveillance system of a younger male subject attempting to break the front (east) door of the restaurant.  Additional video evidence was obtained of the same male subject causing damage within the business."  Tammy said the police worked for about nine hours collecting and marking evidence, such as a sock, shoe, and blood left at the scene, among other things.

Chief Nevelier added, "While completing a canvas of the area, officers observed that the west window on the American Legion door was broken out.  Based on evidence obtained at the scene, it was determined that the same subject who had damaged La Roca was the same person who had damaged the window at the American Legion.  It appears that the subject did not enter the Legion and only broke the window."

"The video cameras picked up several minutes of [the suspect] trying to get into the front door, then falling," Tammy shared.  "He was obviously drunk.  After several minutes, he was able to break the glass on the front door and let himself in where he proceeded to do his damage."

Tammy posted a still image from the video on social media.  Many people messaged her with their thoughts on the identity of the vandal.

One of the people who messaged Tammy was the mother of the suspect, who is a 22-year old man who resides outside of Price County, though his parents reside in Price County.

"Jason and I went to their house where they confessed.  I say 'they' because it was more a mom and dad effort.  They did all the speaking for him, including saying that he had no recollection.  His hands were still covered in paint and stain.  His parents asked we not press charges.  Not only is that an impossibility because of the dollar amount of damage he did but that would also send a message that he is free to get drunk and do it to someone else.  I forgive him and hope he is sorry.  But that doesn’t do him any favors in his future or to keeping our community safe."

As for the timeline of this incident, the vandal approached the building around 2:37 a.m., according to video surveillance.  It is not known how long he was in the building, but he had to have left before 4:30 a.m.  Tammy explained, "According to his mother and the hospital, they picked him up around 4:30 a.m.  They had gone to the hospital, took a wheelchair, then brought it back around 5 a.m."

Chief Nevelier said the man was interviewed but not arrested.  "At this point, the department will be forwarding criminal charges of burglary and felony criminal damage to property.  The department is still actively investigating the case, and additional charges may be filed at a later time."

Tammy stated that she and her husband were able to get through the horrific event on Easter Sunday due to the outpouring of kindness from people in Price County.  "Jason and I would like to thank this amazing community and county for your out-pouring of support and words."

"We have put every penny and minute of our life, for almost five years, into this project.  We have fought two vandalisms, one worldwide pandemic, and soaring building prices.  One drunk young man is not going to be where we throw in the towel."  She added that they will fix the damages, and they will open in the future.

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SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES IN PRICE COUNTY:  Park Village offers affordable, active living in a park-like setting for those 55+ and disabled persons in Park Falls. Rent is based on 30% Adjusted Gross Income.  Small pets under 30 pounds are welcome.  Contact Park Village at 715-762-4747.

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(This post was last modified: 04-12-2023, 02:36 PM by My Northern Wisconsin.)