Staff at JJ’s Kitchen Restaurant don’t feel safe.
When owner Julia Karimi arrived to work at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 7, she noticed that her restaurant’s banner near the road had been cut to pieces.
“Then as I was walking towards the restaurant, I noticed that all the patio coverings – all of them – were slashed,” she said.
The act of vandalism at Karimi’s West Vancouver restaurant has left her grasping for explanations as to why someone would do such a thing. Police are investigating the incident, but said they presently have no evidence to link the act to a potential suspect.
Now, the owner is waiting for a $15,000 insurance claim to be processed, while she grapples with the impact that the highly visible damage is having on the appeal of her business.
All along the exterior frontage of JJ’s, which faces Marine Drive and Thunderbird Marina across the road, long lacerations through the clear plastic and black fabric patio coverings let the outside air pass through the tattered material.
The cuts look like they were made by a knife or another sharp tool, Karimi said.
“This person took the time to go around to make sure the maximum damage was done,” she said. “I think we have nine pieces [of patio covering] in total … they made sure that every one was cut.”
Whoever damaged the coverings also cut down the string lights, but there were no attempts at a break-in, Karimi added.
“It’s very sad because it just looks terrible, and it’s a lot of money for us,” she said. “We depend on our patio, people book our patio for private events … not only that – we don’t feel safe. We feel like if someone can go to that extent, whether they [will] do anything else.”
Karimi called police on the morning she discovered the vandalism. An officer came that afternoon and made a report, she said.
There’s nothing to suggest the incident was targeted or random, said Sgt. Mark McLean, spokesperson for West Vancouver Police Department.
“There’s no CCTV or video,” he said. “The area was widely canvassed to search for witnesses or video.”
There are no suspects, McLean added. “The restaurant hasn’t received any specific threats.”
According to police records, there’s only been one noise complaint made against the business, which was reported in early August.
At the scene, Karimi said the attending police officer told her the act looked targeted.
“Someone was there to hurt us,” the owner said.
Restaurant relies on local support, owner says
Without a clear explanation, Karimi speculates that the vandalism could be retaliation for some of the local marketing they do. On a few occasions, JJ’s has put flyers on car windshields in Caulfeild Village and Horseshoe Bay.
“I apologize if that makes you upset,” she said, adding that method is one of the few effective ways that she’s been able to attract more local customers to her restaurant.
And while most residents in the neighbourhood like having a restaurant in the area, some would prefer there were no businesses there at all, Karimi said.
“Next to us is a daycare … somebody told the daycare that, ‘We pay $5 or $6 million for our houses, not to have little kids running around and making noise,’” she said.
JJ’s isn’t particularly loud, but it is a restaurant where people talk and music sometimes plays, Karimi added.
The first-time restaurant owner – who opened JJ’s nearly two years ago – underscored that she relies on support from locals.
“We’re not looking to become millionaires. It’s just a small business run by a single-mom. And we employ people, we pay our taxes, help the community have somewhere [to go] – imagine those snowy days that they don’t want to drive,” Karimi said. “We’re really an asset to the community and we need to be supported by the community.”
Anyone with CCTV or dashcam footage in the area overnight on Sept. 6, or saw anything suspicious, is asked to call West Vancouver police.