Asian fusion restaurant chain fears ongoing targeting after multiple break-ins

The owners of Mr. and Mrs. Bao, a small chain of Asian-fusion restaurants in London, are speaking out after two of its London restaurants were subjected to multiple break-ins, which they think could be motivated by hate.

Co-owner Julia Hou says in one week their London location and a new site downtown have been repeatedly targeted.

“Of the four break-ins, they were divided equally, two and two, and I think they were both related,” Hou said.

“We did know that in the Toronto area, Asian restaurants were being targeted and repeatedly broken into, and it’s always the same people breaking into the same restaurant. So we’re starting to see that with us.”

She said this feeling of being targeted is furthered by a note left at one of the break-ins. Although the writing is hard to make out, it lists London and Toronto, two of the cities where the business is based, and the words “bye bye.”

“It’s very difficult to read, but it seems like somebody is intentionally trying to send a message to us,” she said.

Mr. and Mrs. Bao is a chain of Asian fusion comfort food restaurants that first started in London with a food truck in 2017. The company has since expanded to five stores with locations in London and Vaughan, soon to be six with the opening of a new downtown London location called Mingle by Mr. and Mrs. Bao.

Video surveillance of the break in at Mr. and Mrs. Bao on 276 Wharncliffe Rd N location in London on the morning of on June 25, 2022.

Video surveillance of the break in at Mr. and Mrs. Bao on 276 Wharncliffe Rd N location in London on the morning of on June 25, 2022.

Supplied by Julia Hou

On June 25, Hou says their 276 Wharncliffe Rd. N location was broken into, and then three days later, their 551 Richmond St. location, which is still under renovation, was also hit.

“The first time around, they come in and took all our keys for the back door (at the Richmond Street location), front door, electrical panel, as well as smoke detectors and the garage fob. We reported that and got all of our keys and door locks replaced,” Hou said.

The final incidents happened on July 4 with the Richmond Street location being targeted at midnight and their Wharncliffe Road location two hours later.

“This time, they took the smoke detectors again (at Richmond Street), but they also went on to flood the toilet. They turned on one of our faucets in the basement near the hot water tank, and then it flooded the toilet, and then they also proceeded to go take a dump in one of our storage rooms, and they left, and they took some uniforms with them,” she said.

Note left to owners at a past break-in and broken door at the Mingle by Mr. and Mrs. Bao location on 551 Richmond St. location on the morning of July 4, 2022

Note left to owners at a past break-in and broken door at the Mingle by Mr. and Mrs. Bao location on 551 Richmond St. location on the morning of July 4, 2022

Supplied by Julia Hou
Flooding after a break in at the Mingle by Mr. and Mrs. Bao location on 551 Richmond St. location on the morning of July 4, 2022

Flooding after a break in at the Mingle by Mr. and Mrs. Bao location on 551 Richmond St. location on the morning of July 4, 2022

Supplied by Jula Hou

Hou said their Wharncliffe Road location had its front windows smashed and the cash drawer was stolen, which had been empty since the last break-in.

She estimates the total cost of lost revenue and repairs to be $6,600.

London police have confirmed they are looking into the first two break-ins but could not find a record of the two on July 4.

All the break-ins at the Wharncliffe Road location were captured on a security video, while Hou documented the damage to their Richmond Street location.

The security video shows a suspect breaking the front door of the Wharncliffe Road location on July 4 and repeatedly throwing the cash drawer on the ground trying to break it open before leaving with it.

While Hou notes their business has been resilient through the pandemic, the break-ins are starting to have a real impact.

“Right now, it’s a very difficult time because there’s inflation that is impacting all industries and all sectors, but primarily the food service industry, and then that paired with the fact that we continuously have breaches, it’s actually impacting our business significantly,” she said.

“We feel like we’re all a part of one community, so more than anything, we want harmony and unity within the community, but at the same time, I feel like it’s up to us. If this is happening to ourselves, our neighbours, and our fellow business owners, then I think it’s also on me to step up and communicate this message that whatever is happening is not nice, and we want it to stop.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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