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Thief steals donations from woman restoring old cafe with quilting friends

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ROBERTS — Connie Rafferty has been in shock since Monday when a thief stole money that her friends had donated to her.

She was working at the Teton Truck Stop near Interstate 15 in Roberts. For the past two months, she’s been renovating the entire restaurant area in order to open the Wild Rose Bakery Cafe.

Connie Rafferty is renovating the Teton Truck Stop restaurant into the Wild Rose Bakery Cafe. | Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com

“This cafe was built in 1969 and has had different owners over the years,” Rafferty tells EastIdahoNews.com. “It has been closed down for at least two years, and people have really missed it.”

Connie signed the lease and quickly realized the café needed a lot of work. Grease was on everything, tile and paint needed replacing, kitchen equipment was outdated, and every corner, from floor to ceiling, had to be scrubbed.

“Someone left in a hurry. I don’t know who or when, but there was a lot to clean up,” Rafferty says. “I am very blessed to have a group of dear friends who volunteered to help me.”

The restaurant needed major renovations when Connie Rafferty took it over in March 2021. | Courtesy Connie Rafferty

Those friends are all women and members of the Snake River Valley Quilt Guild, where Rafferty served as president.

Diana Cary is nearly 80, and she, along with four to five others, have been at the cafe volunteering nearly every weekday since early March.

“Whether it’s washing walls or painting or demolishing or cleaning equipment – we do it all. We’re really good with a sledgehammer and a wrecking bar,” Cary says with a smile. “Connie has always been so good to everyone, so it’s easy to be good to her.”

To help Rafferty even more, the Quilt Guild collected money so a professional window washer could be hired to clean the cafe glass. Earlier this week, she was presented with the surprise.

Members of the Snake River Valley Quilt Guild have been helping Connie Rafferty renovate the restaurant. | Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com

“I totally did not expect anything like that. I had not asked for money at all, but there was an envelope with $360 in cash in it,” Rafferty says. “It was very overwhelming, and I was just flabbergasted. It was a very sweet thing to do, and I was touched.”

Rafferty set the money on a shelf in the back of the restaurant, and the crew continued working. Hours later, the cash was gone.

“We did have a couple of sales reps show up that day, and they were in the vicinity of where the cash was briefly,” Rafferty says. “It was after they left that I noticed it was gone. It absolutely made me ill. I don’t know how else to describe it. It just blows my mind that anyone would do anything like that.”

As far as Rafferty knows, nobody other than the sales reps and her friends were in the cafe Monday. Members of the Quilt Guild say the theft is “just awful.”

Members of the Snake River Valley Quilt Guild donated $360 to Rafferty to hire a window washer. | Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com

“It was obvious that it was a gift. We were just so busy working and never even thinking that anyone would do that,” Cary says.

Rafferty filed a police report and hopes the thief comes forward, even if he or she anonymously drops the envelope off. Her friends have set up a Venmo account to help recoup the stolen money, and donations are being accepted @BandanaGal. If residents cannot find that Venmo account — try searching for Wild Rose Bakery Cafe LLC, and it should appear.

The missing money hasn’t stopped the hard-working women from continuing the project. Rafferty is on target to open the cafe in May and live her retirement years cooking and serving others.

“I need a project, and this keeps me going. I’d like to keep doing this for the next 10 to 15 years at least,” she says.

Connie Rafferty with her friends and members of the Snake River Valley Quilt Guild. | Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com

Our attorneys tell us we need to put this disclaimer in stories involving fundraisers: EastIdahoNews.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries.

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