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Santa Monica restaurants clean up day after unrest, face 1 p.m. curfew

A man runs in front of a burning Sake House restaurant in Santa Monica.
A man runs in front of a burning Sake House restaurant in Santa Monica on Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Santa Monica restaurants and other businesses were ordered to close by 1 p.m. Monday the day after looting and vandalism in the city.

Restaurants along the Third Street Promenade, 4th Street and Main Street were hit Sunday during protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. In chaotic scenes broadcast live on television and over social media, protesters were shot with rubber bullets and tear gas by police as businesses were broken into by looters nearby.

To protect the community, Santa Monica issued a 1 p.m. curfew for business districts as well as a citywide 4 p.m. curfew.

“We encourage residents to stay at home and businesses to close and send their employees home,” Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud said in a video the city posted on Twitter

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Several restaurants chose to just close for the day, including Birdie G’s, Cassia and Sidecar Donuts. It’s another financial hit for owners and chefs already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown.

Birdie G’s posted a message on Instagram that said, “We look forward to helping this community heal, rebuild and strive for lasting change.”

Elephante, whose exterior was hit by graffiti, also chose to remain closed Monday, operations manager Rob Chislett said.

Heroic Deli in Santa Monica opens despite damage to its front window.
(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

Others opened — for a few hours, anyway. Around 11:30 a.m., a line of customers waited to order food outside Heroic Deli next to the restaurant’s shattered front windows. The restaurant, one of the first to reopen for dine-in service Friday, welcomed customers into its dining room.

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Many restaurants that were looted over the weekend spent Monday cleaning up, with assistance from volunteers who swept away broken glass and helped board up windows.

The smell of burning wood was still wafting from the broken windows at Sake House by Hikari, a popular Japanese restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard. The restaurant was completely engulfed in flames Sunday afternoon; Monday morning, the restaurant’s front door remained shattered and its dining room a mess of broken glass and furniture.

The inside of Sake House in Santa Monica the morning after the restaurant was set on fire.
(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

At Sunnin Lebanese restaurant, owner Nicole Chammaa packaged plastic bins of labneh, grape leaves and sliced tomatoes. The night before, looters smashed in the front window, stole a laptop, an iPad and overturned plants. She planned to take the food to her Westwood location and close up the Santa Monica restaurant, possibly for good, she said.

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The Sweetfin on Broadway was also badly damaged. Security footage posted by co-owner Seth Cohen on Instagram shows vandals breaking in through the front door, heading straight to the register, stealing a tablet and rummaging through drawers. The door at Sweetgreen on 4th Street was also demolished, leaving a trail of broken glass.

On the other side of the Promenade, windows were smashed at Ye Old Kings Head, a British pub and shop. Empty shoe boxes and trash were strewn across the sidewalk in front of the entrance. .

Less than 24 hours after L.A. County restaurants were told they could reopen for dine-in service, many were vandalized during citywide George Floyd protests.

The Water Grill along Ocean Avenue also was looted, its facade tagged with gold spray paint and its front door broken.

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The front door window at Michael’s restaurant was smashed, but owner Chas McCarty remained hopeful, posting a photo of neighbors cleaning up the glass this morning.

“Feeling like we’re lucky for this one, given so many of our neighbors’ destruction,” MCarty wrote. “I don’t want to live in a world where my windows get broken, but I don’t want to live in a world where black people don’t feel safe.”

View this post on Instagram

Just a love tap on someone’s way out. ❤️ Woke up to these wonderful people cleaning up the broken glass. Feeling like we’re lucky for this one, given so many of our neighbors destruction. Just remember the duality of life. We can acknowledge the vehicle of ones rage and the cause of it all at once without diluting either. I was here yesterday. I saw people of all races and ages peacefully protesting the deaths of countless black and brown people. Not just George Floyd’s. I also saw a lot of kids of all races who were rowdy and looking to blow off three months of being cooped up at home. How many times have black and brown people used peaceful forms of storytelling to try and get the message across? How many times have all of us listened to Otis Redding, Beyoncé, or Kendrick and just sang along to the lines that made us feel comfortable without digesting the rest? I saw a ton of broken windows today but do we forget that more has been broken over less? Black and brown people are telling us they’re in pain. Find me a single restaurant in the United States that operates without black or brown employees. It is our responsibility to listen — LISTEN. Please, let’s not confuse the 99% of people peacefully protesting a cause every American can sit with better and reflect on better. It’s not a failure to say we can do better. It’s not an omission of our own pain to acknowledge the pain of others. I don’t want to live in a world where my windows get broken, but I don’t want to live in a world where black people don’t feel safe. I can feel two things at the same time and I can see that their cure is literally the same thing. - Chas #blacklivesmatter

A post shared by Michael's Santa Monica (@michaelssantamonica) on

And despite social media reports that Bay Cities was looted Saturday night, the Italian deli and market received little damage. Owner Bob Garacochea said the front area, which was spray painted Sunday night, had already been covered over.

“We’re looking forward to a fresh start tomorrow,” he said.


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