It was a harrowing few hours for R. Thomas Deluxe Grill owner Linay Thomas-Sheltr and the Thomas family last Friday, following the theft of three of the restaurant’s prized exotic birds in the early morning hours of April 14.
Ruby the parrot and cockatoos Peaches and Cream were eventually found and returned unharmed to the restaurant later that night and the brazen bird thief arrested by Atlanta police, the AJC reports.
At least one suspect, Adam Deck, faces charges of theft by taking and second-degree criminal damage to property after driving a black pickup truck with a trailer to R. Thomas, blacking out the security cameras with spray paint, and cutting the pad locks off of the climate-controlled enclosures to remove the birds.
Ruby was a particular favorite of the restaurant’s founder, Richard Thomas, who died in 2017 at the age of 82. Thomas-Sheltr says there was a mutual love between her dad and the parrot.
Thomas first opened R. Thomas Deluxe Grill in 1985 as a 24-hour spot serving a healthier spin on breakfast, lunch, and late-night food. It was also one of the first establishments in the city to center its menu on vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes. Beyond the food, the colorful Thomas, and the eclectic crowd who frequented the restaurant during the overnight shift, R. Thomas has for years featured a mini exotic bird sanctuary just outside the entrance. At one time, the restaurant was home to 12 very talkative birds. It wasn’t unusual during Thomas’s time as proprietor to see a parrot or cockatoo flying around the dining room or sitting atop his shoulder.
After Thomas’s death six years ago, his family took over the business. The beloved birds remained an important part of his legacy and continue to be a popular attraction at the restaurant.
R. Thomas ceased 24-hour dining service at the start of the pandemic and is currently closed on Mondays. However, the restaurant is now serving until 5 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.