East London restaurants targeted by ‘senseless' window smashing attacks
Restaurants in East London have been repeatedly targeted by vandals in a series of "senseless" attacks that are costing businesses thousands of pounds.
Flat Earth Pizzas in London's Hackney had seven of its windows smashed this week, which could set the restaurant back £20,000.
CCTV footage of the incident, which took place on 7 March, showed a man use a hammer to smash each window in turn. He left the scene immediately without attempting to break in.
It is the third attack on the restaurant since it opened in April 2022 and the latest in a growing number of incidents reported in the area.
Sarah Brading, co-founder of the business, which serves a range of meat-free pizzas, told The Caterer that it was "completely devastating" to have walked into what looked like a "bomb site" the morning after the attack.
She said that each of the triple-glazed windows, which wrap around the premises, would cost about £1,000 to repair.
Shutters could cost around £10,000 to install, bringing prices up to "about £20,000" in total.
Flat Earth Pizzas had to close on 8 March, resulting in the loss of a day's trade.
The restaurant is currently open but has one less pane of glass and is using plastic covering, which Brading said was causing her sleepless nights.
She added: "We'll get the windows on insurance but it's going to hike up our premiums for next year and we're going to have to pay an excess, so we're out of pocket for that as well. We're completely self-funded – we've got no cushion."
The restaurant was first attacked last September when alcohol was stolen during a break-in, while the second window smashing incident occurred towards the end of the year.
Brading said: "I'm at the end of my tether. How can small businesses survive if no one is helping us? We will shut, and if we shut, other businesses will shut as well because people can't shoulder this amount of money, and this amount of heartbreak, stress, and anxiety. Then what happens to the local people who are working with us? What happens to the communities?"
Brading has written to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and said 25 to 30 venues – most of them restaurants –had reported similar experiences of "senseless vandalism" or break-ins.
She added: "We are a business on our knees that are trying to do the best we can … and we can't do it, because we don't get the safety. Tonight I've got to close and lock up by myself, and I'm already thinking: am I going to be a bit nervous about that?"
Samantha Lim, co-owner of Elliot's restaurant and wine bar in London's Hackney, also told The Caterer that her business had seen two attacks "literally within two weeks" of each other, which resulted in twelve smashed windows that were replaced and then re-smashed.
She has temporarily reduced trading hours and paid for clean-up and replacement services out of her own pocket, which has cost "thousands of pounds".
Lim said: "It's just really upsetting that a lot of places that have been affected seem to be really independently owned businesses. We spend a lot of time getting to know the people who come and visit, so it feels really bizarre. Also it's not just in Hackney – Theo's in Camberwell had an issue with this as well."
Both Brading and Lim have reported the incidents to the police and said they were "trying to figure out why this is happening".
The Metropolitan Police have been contacted for comment.
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