It was 9:21 p.m. on Monday night when I got a call from my store manager, Rafael Valentin. While he generally doesn’t call this late, when he does it’s usually about a client issue, or some food item. But when I heard his voice I knew something bad had happened. I was expecting to hear that an employee got hurt and needed to go to the hospital. My heart sinks and my legs tremble with thoughts of that, just like when I feel like jello when I have to take my kids to the ER. But no, what I heard made me feel like I was back in Caracas. . . someone had thrown stones at the restaurant and broken the glass on the front door.
My first thought was wondering who would do such a thing. Was this one individual against Pica Pica? Why? So I asked Rafael for details. He said there were riots in the street. Riots?! In San Francisco?
When you grow up in a place like Caracas, this kind of violence is unfortunately quite common, but that stuff generally doesn’t happen in a city like San Francisco. And when we talked 15 minutes later, he said that many businesses on Valencia Street had also been vandalized.
At the time our front door was shattered, we had people at the restaurant eating peacefully, about 16 customers. Everyone obviously stayed put — no one was going to go out to that mess. So everyone finished their dinner and left carefully, making sure they didn’t get injured, stepping around the shards of broken glass. Rafael called the police, who showed up at 11 p.m. They were very busy chasing the bad guys down the street. It is amazing that the bad guys (anarchists? Occupiers? random people looking for an excuse to rage against the machine? Who knows. . .) were able to hurt so many business so quickly. Zone 461, the Art Gallery next to us, got most of its windows smashed, as did Taca Airlines on the corner of 14th . . .so we were “lucky.” I think we only got one hit because we had people inside and they didn’t want to hurt other people.
Who knows. Who knows what makes regular people inflict pain onto other regular people. Because while they threw a stone through a window, one inanimate object against another one, they really hurt the people behind these businesses. Not only is there a cost incurred to replace the broken window, it is a violation. One feels taken advantage of, unimportant and insulted.
I want to thank my staff members, who don’t have dealing with this type of situation in their job descriptions, for handling the attack with professionalism and calm. The glass on the floor was cleaned up, the door was covered overnight with a plastic trash bag and the gates were closed. The next day I was able to get a glass contractor on site by 8 a.m.; and by 1 p.m. the glass had been replaced and business went on as usual.
Thank you everyone for your continued support of Pica Pica on Valencia. It was great to see so many people coming through the door Tuesday for lunch and dinner!