Princeton’s Soup & Sandwich Thief
Story by Tom Andersen
When I owned the Princeton Market & Deli in the 1970s, the Princeton Inn (PI)–then owned by Ed Tonini– was padlocked by the California State Board of Equalization for non-payment of sales taxes.
Ed hired “Crazy Ron”, a local, to caretake the place while it was “in closure.” Ron was a great guy as long as he took his required meds.
My first clue that the PI was shut down came when, overnight, Ron became the best customer at my deli in the Princeton Market. I sold sandwiches, potato & macaroni salad, and beverages, and the business was profitable.
Well, all of a sudden, Ron materialized with large orders for multiple sandwiches, beverages, and salads—and he paid cash, much to my pleasure. After a couple of days of this, a customer asked if I was aware that the PI had re-opened, to which I replied,
“No, the state has shut them down for not paying sales taxes.”
Turns out, Crazy Ron, the Princeton Inn’s temporary caretaker, felt that part of his job was to help keep the PI open even though it was legally closed. I came to that conclusion when I learned that the PI now had a “menu” identical to what I was serving in my own deli! Ron took the orders, dashed across the street to my market, and delivered the goods, no doubt at a profit, all AOK with me, I was glad for the extra sales.
Couple of days later, Leah, from the Crab Cottage, wandered in to my deli and complained:
“Somebody stole our soup of the day!!!”
Apparently, a midnight soup thief ran off with the hot pot. had slipped in the Crab Cottage’s back kitchen door, and made off with a three- gallon tureen of clam chowder.
“Leah, what’s the ‘soup of the day’ at the PI?”
“The PI is closed for back taxes”, she said.
After a day or two, the state officials returned to the scene, this time with bigger padlocks…