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Bud's Broiler in Mid-City robbed, employee forced into cooler at gunpoint

Bud's Broiler Mid-City. (Source: Meg Gatto / FOX 8 Photo) Bud's Broiler Mid-City. (Source: Meg Gatto / FOX 8 Photo)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

A Mid-City Bud's Broiler employee was forced inside a cooler at gunpoint during an armed robbery early Tuesday morning according to initial New Orleans Police Department reports.

Now the owner of the restaurant is rethinking security measures at the restaurant.

An armed woman wearing a ski mask walked into the restaurant, located in the 500 block of City Park Avenue., just after 2 a.m. and ordered the employee to get in the cooler.

Owner Mel Ziegler explains, “(she) made the employee go in the back where the cooler is, put the employee in the cooler.”

Ziegler says the woman grabbed cash from the office.

"During that period the employee hit the emergency release in the cooler to get out and that person put them back in," Ziegler said.

Surveillance video captured the entire robbery. Ziegler is waiting for investigators to process the footage before making it public.

As for the timing, on Monday, the RTA began work on a new streetcar terminal shutting down a portion of City Park Avenue. Ziegler thinks that may have had something to do with the woman's decision to rob the place Tuesday morning.

"It cuts traffic off tremendously here at night and I think the person may have taken advantage of the fact that maybe the police vehicles wouldn't be able to respond as quick," Ziegler said.

Ziegler admits police did make it to the restaurant in just a matter of minutes but the woman got away.

Just a year and a half ago, cameras inside the restaurant captured a similar scene but that attempted robbery ended much differently after the employee fought back sending the gunman running from the store. Both incidents, the first of their kind for the 24-hour joint.

The same location was the site of another attempted armed robbery in December of 2015.

In that incident, employees stopped a man armed with a gun from taking cash from the register. Ismael "Mike" Naranjo fled the scene but was later captured by police.

We've never had any incidents before from the midnight shift to 8 am, but times have changed a lot in this city so maybe this is something we need to look at,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler says his female employee is shaken. Now, he's working with a security company to come up with a better plan to keep customers and his employees, safe.

Ziegler said the employee was able to get out of the cooler once the suspect left the store. There weren't any customers inside at the time.

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