Large rock crashes front window of Beechview Latino restaurant
January 9, 2016 12:00 AM
Workers board up one of the front windows of Casa Rasta in Beechview, which was broken when someone threw a rock through it Thursday night
By Alyssa Brown and Madasyn Czebiniak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
For the second time in a month, a business associated with a Latino family in the South Hills has been vandalized.
About 10:30 a.m. Friday, Antonio Fraga, co-owner and chef at the Casa Rasta restaurant in Beechview, arrived to start his work day. Entering the restaurant he noticed the outside canopy was bent and thought someone had pulled on it. When he went to fix it, he saw that his front window had been shattered.
Sometime after he and manager Missy Berumen left the restaurant on Broadway Avenue after 11 p.m. Thursday, someone threw a large rock through the window. The rock, bigger than a baseball, was still inside the restaurant Friday night, sitting in a potted plant.
The restaurant is affiliated with the Las Palmas chain, which runs taco stands and grocery stores in Beechview, Brookline and Oakland. Las Palmas is owned by Gabriel Berumen, the husband of the restaurant manager.
On Dec. 8, someone wrote “Go back to Mexico” on an outside rear wall of the Las Palmas grocery in Brookline.
Mr. Berumen said Las Palmas vans and his own car also have been targeted, with tires slashed and cars vandalized with keys a few times since the first Las Palmas store, in Brookline, opened in 2009.
The Casa Rasta restaurant, which moved from its original location a few businesses away on Broadway Avenue, never had problems before the restaurant was reopened in May with Las Palmas ownership.
"In almost five years I have been here I have never had anything happen," Mr. Fraga said.
Mrs. Berumen said they filed a police report about the rock incident, and Sonya Toler, city public safety spokeswoman, confirmed that the department is investigating the report of criminal mischief.
After the Brookline grocery was tagged with the "Go back to Mexico" scrawling last month, the community came together and formed long lines to buy tacos from the outside stand. And that weekend, people rallied in support of the store at 700 Brookline Blvd.
Even Mayor Bill Peduto stopped by for two tacos and issued this statement: "Las Palmas has been a staple of this community and brings people to Brookline. Anybody who decides to be a coward and write on the side of the building something that is pure hatred really has no place in this city."
Four brothers opened the store in 2009 after closing their landscaping business in Indianapolis. Here they had relatives and noted an opportunity to sell Mexican groceries.
Alyssa Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1999. Madasyn Czebiniak: email@example.com or 412-263-1269.
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