030219-adh-nws-Novak's aftermath08-my

Karen Novak looks at her restaurant that will be closed for some time while crews clean the smoke damage and rebuild a portion of the dining room floor.

In the wake of a fire, Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant was burglarized, its back door and back window broken, and a generator being used to clean and restore the business was stolen.

Owner Karen Novak said the burglary was discovered at the restaurant, which is temporarily closed, on Tuesday morning.

“Oh, that's great, just kick us when we're down,” Novak said. “But when people know you’re not there, there you go.”

The generator was worth about $500 to $600 and is the property of Summit Cleaning & Restoration, said Chris Nordyke, Summit vice president of business development and strategy.

Burglaries similar to the Novak’s case happen, but not often, Nordyke said.

“We did well more than 1,000 jobs last year, and I would say we probably saw this a handful of times, a dozen times. … We have seen an uptick in some of these occurrences, particularly in the Corvallis-Albany area,” he added.

“It’s unfortunate and it feels like someone is rubbing salt in the wound,” Nordyke said.

A call to an Albany Police Department spokesman about the burglary was not returned on Wednesday afternoon.

The burglary comes on the heels of a Sunday fundraiser dinner and silent auction that brought in more than $12,000 for Novak’s employees. The silent auction raised roughly $4,700 of that sum.

“That’s going to make a big difference in people’s lives as they try to make it through these hard times,” said Lise Grato, executive director of the Albany Downtown Association, which helped organize the event.

Additional funds continue to come in through smaller fundraising efforts, Grato added.

“It’s been amazing,” Novak said.

The fire occurred on Feb. 27, but most of the damage was due to smoke. Since then, the 22 employees of the restaurant have been out of work.

Novak said on Wednesday that it could take two months or more to reopen the restaurant.

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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