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Sunnyside café hit by theft and damages in second incident

A February break-in at Sunnyside’s Vendome Café comes amid a recent increase B&E crimes in the Hillhurst and Sunnyside communities.

The café manager and its owners say they have customer and employee safety in their minds.

Break-ins of both commercial and non-residential properties combined were at 22 and 6 in Jan and Feb 2021, respectively. The number more than doubled in Feb 2022 at 15.

Vendome Café has been operating in Sunnyside for 11 years. They're apart of the Teatro Group.

The perpetrators pried open the back door. Two people entered, ransacked the business, and took off with the café's safe, according to Katrina Brodie, Vendome general manager.

“It's jarring to know that people can invade what you think of as a safe space,” said Brodie.

“It was a really frustrating event.”

Brodie said they've replaced the back door. They’ll also be installing motion sensor lights to detract people from entering the premises.

Providing a safe, comfortable space for customers and staff

Last year, Vendome was broken into and more valuables were taken.

“They stole cash, they stole product as far as liquor goes, and then technology like tablets and iPads for using restaurant systems,” said Teatro Group’s Chief Operating Officer, Matthew Batey.

The Teatro group, and Vendome as a whole, want to make sure that their customers feel safe and comfortable in their spaces. They also want to reassure staff, who have been unnerved by the event.

“It feels personal. You feel violated,” said Batey.

“You arrive to work to see your workspace all trashed, and broken glass everywhere. That's unnerving for people, especially in a business that employs quite a few younger people, students and the like. That's pretty unsettling.”

Community love remains strong

The business has a community of regular customers that make up the Vendome Café family, said Batey. Vendome regulars have helped liven up the location. A flower planter outside at the corner of their business has been under the care of 91-year-old Dorothy, who has been visiting Vendome ever since they opened.

“One of the things that we love about [Vendome Café] is that it is such a community, right. I mean, that restaurant, it's a little hub.”

The restaurant also sees frequent vandalism, Batey said, describing them as “victimless crimes.”

“Somebody walks past, you know, they break all the flowers, they ruin the plantings, they do all that sort of stuff,” said Beaty.

“It appears to be one of those victimless crimes, even though it's quite a significant thing for that person.”

Hospitality involves caring for people and attending to people, Batey said. They understand that people that participate in acts against a business or person may be in a challenging situation where they are forced to act to survive.

“While feeling for your fellow person, it becomes even more challenging to be motivated to be part of the solution when it continues to come at your peril, and people are stealing from you. You know, that's personal. And that's tough to deal with.”