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Frenchtown False Alarm Scares Off Diners, Dollars

March 27, 2009 — Frenchtown restaurants and bars lost thousands of dollars Thursday night when an anonymous caller told police there was a bomb in Betsy's Bar, centrally located in Frenchtown.
Owner Betsy Sheehan said the police called her about 7:15 p.m. to warn of the situation, and the bomb squad showed up a couple minutes later with bomb-sniffing dogs.
"They cleared everyone out of the bar," Sheehan said. "We didn't have any business until later," she said.
According to restaurant owners, the police cordoned off the three entrances to Frenchtown, playing havoc with diners.
Hook, Line and Sinker hostess Dottie Combs said she saw the flashing lights from a police car and the bomb squad unit outside, but she was unable to find out what was going on.
"We had customers who were waiting for the rest of their party to show up, and they couldn't get in to the restaurant."
Not only was the incident directly harmful to business, but as Becky Luscz, co-owner of Hook, Line and Sinker, noted, it's bad for future business. "When tourists were turned away, as they were last night, it affects all the businesses here."
That thought was echoed by other restaurateurs. Brian Andre', owner of Bella Blu and the Pie Whole (formerly Tuscany Grill) said, "We lost a substantial amount of business, everybody did."
Debbie Mann, financial officer of Oceana Restaurant, said, "We lost our entire second seating."
Craig and Sally's Restaurant also lost reservations. "Customers couldn't get in; they had to cancel. It was very rude of whoever did it," said Craig Barash. "Everybody in Frenchtown lost whatever they lost, and there's no way to make it up. I hope they find who did it."
Henry Richardson, owner of Le Petit Fenetre Bar, lamented the effect on the small community. "I didn't lose too much, myself, maybe $200, because we don't serve food. But when folks come here, they expect a nice quiet evening, not having the streets blocked off."
According to the restaurant owners, Frenchtown was blocked off for between two and three hours.
Calls to police for more information were not returned Friday.
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