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Stolen Fonda San Miguel fountain returns from its unexpected getaway

The Fonda San Miguel fountain that was stolen in July has since been returned. (Fonda San Miguel)

After nearly two months of waiting and wondering by the Fonda San Miguel staff and customers, their beloved bronze fountain was finally returned by an anonymous source this past weekend.

Tom Gilliland, owner and founder of Fonda San Miguel, thought fondly of this fountain and he, along with the restaurant's employees and visitors, was extremely concerned about its whereabouts.

"It felt like having a dear friend return safely from an unexpected trip without knowing when or if they would ever return."

The fountain, which featured an elongated face and was entitled "Rostro Rectangular, Ojos Cerrados" (eyes closed), was stolen the morning of July 6 and was immediately reported to the Austin Police Department. The restaurant offered a $500 reward for anyone who could help locate their dearest fountain piece.

The piece was created by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante and weighs over 60 pounds. The heist was not one for beginners.

The fountain was stolen off this wall in July. (Fonda San Miguel)

"(The fountain) is massive and would have required at least two strong individuals and a truck to pull this off," Gilliland said. "My guess is the thieves knew exactly what they were stealing."

It sat tucked away behind a wooden screen and stone wall, making it not easily visible by any passersby. However, many customers adored the iconic fountain and viewed it through the window in the main dining room.

Gilliland first bought the fountain in 2019 while visiting Bustamante's gallery in Mexico. Other pieces by the renowned artist can be seen on display within the restaurant.

Art pieces from the same artist line the restaurant. (Fonda San Miguel)

After the fountain was stolen, Bustamante crafted a new fountain, which was slightly darker than the original. They implemented additional security measures with this installment.

When the fountain was returned, they also increased security measures in hopes of preventing a situation like this from happening again. Though it luckily only endured minimal damage while it was gone, the original fountain will return to its display spot soon, the owners say.

Gilliland encourages those who want to see the fountain back in its rightful place to visit their restaurant located on West North Loop. Fonda San Miguel is open every day starting at 5 p.m. and is closed on Sundays.


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