Andy Shallal, who owns Busboys and Poets, said the break-ins demonstrate desperation in the community. But he also said it “adds insult to injury” for restaurant owners who are “barely making it.”
He added: “It breaks a certain covenant. Don’t mess with us now. We’re all struggling. Don’t make it harder for us to reopen.”
The break-ins, first reported on the DCist website, occurred within minutes of each other Monday night in the 2000 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, the neighborhood’s commercial strip.
Turning Natural was struck at 11:39 p.m., when D.C. police said someone with a rock smashed a door window and stole a cash register containing $100. Busboys and Poets was hit six minutes later, when police said someone threw a rock through a plate-glass window and took a cash register that turned out to be empty.
No arrests have been made.
The owner of the juice bar, which has several other locations in the area, did not respond to inquiries seeking comment.
But messages posted on the store’s Instagram site call the break-ins frustrating and inconvenient and also “mostly disappointing.” The messages say the incidents highlight “the needs that are in our communities,” but also note, “there’s a neighborhood code of ethics that isn’t being honored. We have to take care of each other and it doesn’t look like this. We are all connected.”
Shallal, whose bookstore and cafe also have other locations in the District and its suburbs, said he is heartened by an outpouring of support on social media and from people driving by the Anacostia location honking their horns.
“It really makes a difference,” Shallal said, “especially at a time when we’re so isolated. People are just trying to live right now, and it’s refreshing to know people want us to succeed.”
Shallal can’t get the window replaced at the moment, so he covered the hole with plywood painted with a big red heart. The message: Busboys loves Anacostia.