Recent incidents of vandalism include broken window panes in restaurants

A surge in robberies of retail stores across Los Angeles has sparked headlines and debates over crime and punishment, and resulted in 14 arrests. But it wasn’t just luxury and retail chains that were targeted; Local restaurateurs also have to deal with breaking windows as they navigate pandemic restrictions and enter one of the most demanding seasons of the year.

In République, Mid-Wilshire, a large stone landed through the window just before Thanksgiving. One of the bakers at the café-restaurant, who arrived around 2 a.m., hit the broken windscreen and immediately called the cook and co-owner Walter Manzke.

“We have only been open eight years since we opened at République, and we have never had vandalism there,” said Manzke.

Manzke immediately drove to the restaurant to inspect the damage. Along the route on La Brea Avenue, he noticed overturned trash cans, but no damage to any of the shops near République. Upon arrival, he found that the hole in the window was too small to enter and saw no other signs of vandalism. The footage from the surveillance camera did not provide any usable images.

The chief owner has neither filed a complaint with the police nor filed an insurance claim; the initial estimate of $ 3,000 for window replacement is below its deductible. “Maybe I should have filed a complaint with the police, but there seems to be so much going on in the world,” said Manzke, adding that there wasn’t much to do.

The République staff are still working on the repair. The window was quickly boarded up and new glass ordered, but when it arrived the complexity of the repair became more apparent. Tall benches are welded along the front windows and may need to be cut and then rewelded to insert the glass, which could double the cost, according to Manzke. The window was boarded up on Tuesday.

In May 2020, a window was broken at Petty Cash Taqueria in Fairfax, another restaurant owned by Manzke and his wife and business partner, pastry chef Margarita Manzke, during protests following the murder of George Floyd. Walter Manzke wonders if the newer window break-in was the work of someone who was dissatisfied with the city’s new requirements for vaccination records or a negative COVID-19 test for entering restaurants. Some guests, he said, had a difficult time for the République’s staff.

As of November 27, according to LAPD data, real estate crime was up 2.6% from the same period in 2020, but down 6.6% from 2019 as people broke into high-end retailers for luxury items steal, and crews have reportedly followed people home from shopping areas to rob them. However, police officers said Tuesday that restaurants are among the targets of the broader crime trends that have been reported; In late November, a man was shot dead in front of the Bossa Nova Hollywood restaurant in an attempted robbery.

A look at Birdie G’s broken window in Santa Monica before the staff temporarily climbed into it.

(Birdie Gs)

During a police commission meeting Tuesday, LAPD chief Michel Moore said the department believes there is some overlap between the groups that track people home and rob them and those who hit businesses. And police believe restaurants are one of the places such groups look for potential destinations. However, spokesmen for Los Angeles and Santa Monica police departments said they had not seen a surge in restaurant vandalism. “If there [are] No reports have been submitted, we cannot talk about them, ”said the LAPD spokesman. So far only a few restaurateurs have reported a window break-in or break-in; One of them is Executive Chef Jeremy Fox.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, windows were broken in two of his restaurants, Birdie G’s and Tallulah’s, both in Santa Monica. Fox said he and his staff “know what happened to Tallulahs” but did not want to elaborate. He believes the vandalism at Tallulah had nothing to do with the breaking window at Birdie G. He reported to the police about every incident.

“It’s not common; Vandalism doesn’t happen often, ”said Fox. “It’s never a good time, but right now [because of the pandemic], our margins are low. We don’t best spend our time fixing something that shouldn’t be fixed. It distracts the focus from what we want to focus on, which is making people happy and being a restaurant. “

The only surveillance camera that recorded the incident at Birdie G contained footage of a masked figure throwing a stone through the window at 5:10 a.m. on November 27 and then walking away. There were no signs of break-in or break-in. A doorman noticed the broken window upon arrival around 7am; later the window was boarded up and covered with wrapping paper and a red bow.

Birdie G's broken window covered with wrapping paper and a bow

After an attacker threw a rock through a window at Birdie G, Assistant General Manager Keely Obbards covered the boarded-up window with wrapping paper and a bow for the holidays.

(Brian Jacobs / Birdie G’s)

Replacing the window at Tallulah only took a few days, but repairing Birdie G will likely take weeks. Fox said the stone only cracked the front layer of the double-glazed glass, but because of a custom tint it will take a little longer and cost about $ 1,500 to replace. After posting about the broken window on his Instagram account, Fox received several replies suggesting it was his “vaccine mandate punishment.” He, too, had a few customers who were dissatisfied with the vaccine controls, but he says most were supported and compliant.

Another cook, whose restaurant was broken into after breaking a glass door on November 23, is so used to this type of vandalism that she includes replacing windows in her annual running costs.

The surveillance camera footage showed a hooded and masked assailant throwing a stone through the glass front of Ayara Thai Cuisine in Westchester, then knocking out the glass and entering at 5:06 am; They collected $ 30 in rolled coins, about $ 100 in a filing cabinet, and two bottles of Thai iced tea. Cash isn’t usually kept in restaurants overnight, said one owner, and most people pay digitally or with a card so there’s nothing in the till.

A neighbor noticed the broken glass around 6 a.m. and called the owners.

“It could have been a lot worse. Nobody was hurt, nothing was really taken, ”said Vanda Asapahu, who runs the restaurant with her parents and siblings. “It’s just part of the business. It’s sad to think about it like that, but somehow you have to move on. If you dwell on it too long, you cannot bring anything back and you will lose time. “

The Asapahus say the annual break-in into the restaurant usually occurs between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

After learning of the incident, Asapahu and her mother drove to the location, and she, her husband, and the restaurant’s general manager began checking the security footage. Asapahu called the LAPD emergency number but was unable to reach a representative to file a lawsuit; She says she probably will at some point. It happens so often, she says, that as long as her employees don’t get hurt, she doesn’t worry.

Three women are standing and wearing aprons

Sisters Kathy (left), Vanda (right) and their mother Angkana Asapahu say their restaurant windows are broken annually.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

The glass door was replaced at 4 p.m., which cost about $ 500. The restaurant used to have an alarm system, but Asapahu said the monthly service costs plus additional fees for false alarms triggered by a sensitive system exceeded the annual cost of simply replacing windows.

“I’ve had friends who asked, ‘Wouldn’t you like to put bars on the windows or one of those roller doors?'” Asapahu said. “And I say, ‘Really?’ Once you do, your neighbors will, and your community will change too. I really don’t like that, and it’s only once a year. Really nothing is lost. I kind of built it into my business plan that we replace the glass every year. If the glass has a scratch, don’t worry. We’ll replace it soon, probably in the fourth quarter. “

Times agent Kevin Rector contributed to this report.

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