Owners eager to rebuild after Lubbock Schlotzsky’s destroyed by arson

Schlotzsky’s at 19th and Memphis, suffers burglaries and arson
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 9:38 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - On July 17, police responded to reports of a burglary at the Schlotzsky’s near 19th and Memphis Avenue.

The owners of the restaurant, Chris and Liz Lonngren, told police someone had stolen several items from the store over the past several days.

The restaurant has been in the family for around 45 years. Lonngren said there has not been any crime in the 30 years he’s worked there.

“We really hadn’t had anything over the 30 years I’ve been doing it, until I guessed about two or three weeks ago, someone had broken in. We weren’t really sure how they got in, we changed the locks and all that, and he got in again.”

The first burglary was on the night of July 15, then the robber came back on the 17th. When he arrived the second time, Lonngren was more prepared.

“We still weren’t sure how he got in, and he had left a note, wanting $5,000, which was kind of crazy,” Lonngren said. “About that time, we had alarm systems, but we didn’t have cameras, so I went and got some cameras from one of the hardware stores, and set some stuff up.”

The suspect left a note, saying that if the Lonngrens left him $5,000 on the counter, he would return the belongings he stole.

Then he wrote, “if you don’t, you’ll regret it.”

Longren said he feels like he should have stayed and waited for the robber, because he did return on the day he said he would.

On the night of Aug. 2, something they could have never imagined happened.

schlotzsky's fire on memphis and 19th
schlotzsky's fire on memphis and 19th(Chris Lonngren)
schlotzsky's fire on memphis and 19th
schlotzsky's fire on memphis and 19th(Chris Lonngren)
schlotzsky's fire on memphis and 19th
schlotzsky's fire on memphis and 19th(Chris Lonngren)

“And then Monday night the detector went off in my camera system, and you could see that there were flames in the store. So I got down here and the fire department was already on the way. Someone else had called them, too, and that’s where we are at right now,” Lonngren said.

Lonngren said it’s hard for him to watch the footage without crying. He could not believe his eyes when firefighters extinguished the fire and he saw the damage.

“So we had a fire in the kitchen and fire in my office, not a whole lot of damage in the actual dining room, just a lot of smoke damage, but the kitchen got pretty well gutted,” Lonngren said.

Before the fire, the suspect left a threatening note, stole multiple iPads, and money.

Lonngren and his wife do believe these two crimes are connected; however, they are unsure of who this arsonist is.

“When you look at the picture, it’s the same person. We have no idea who this guy is, he’s not an ex-employee, he’s not a relative of an employee, he’s not an ex-boyfriend of an employee, or anything like that,” Lonngren said. “I think there may be a name out there, I think we’ve gotten contacted by another restaurant that this person works for. And I think it’s all been reported to the police.”

Lonngren said he hopes the Lubbock police and Fire Marshall are able to take care of everything. He is now just trying to focus on his employees and rebuilding the business.

“The thing that’s disappointing is, my employees had a job on Monday and now they don’t have a job, but we’re working our way through. Texas Workforce Commission has been great,” Lonngren said. “But we’ll make it through, a lot of people have their homes go up and that’s worse than a business, business we’ll take care of that, no lives were lost or anything like that.”

Lonngren is grateful to the Lubbock community for all the support they have shown his business and his family.

“The response on social media has been unbelievable. I don’t really watch any of that, but my wife and my boys have done it, and then all their friends got into it, it’s just gone around,” Lonngren said. “Just the support from the community has been great. It’s just unbelievable, people have called, businesses have come and helped out and we are just looking forward to when we reopen.”

If you have any information regarding the burglaries or arson, please contact Lubbock police at 806-775-2865. You can remain anonymous.

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