Joanna Heart’s small business, Palm Coffee Bar, had its front window smashed on Wednesday morning in an apparent break-in attempt. Replacing it, she said, will likely cost about $4,000.
And yet, she struggles to express how happy that day made her.
After the adjacent businesses and other members of the Burbank community heard that the cafe’s window was damaged, Heart said, they stepped up. Boarding up the window would have cost about $1,000, but neighbors and customers came over to the small shop and did the work themselves.
Additionally, Heart said, many Burbank community members have donated to help cover her insurance deductible for the window, with more than half of the cost raised a day after it was smashed.
Heart calls the helpers and donors “angels from heaven.”
“It sounds like a sad day, but it is really a joyous day for my employees and our customers who were celebrating us and showed up to support us,” she said. “It was amazing.”
The break-in happened at about 6:20 a.m. on Wednesday, Heart said, but the large size of the window prevented the would-be intruder from entering, even after it was damaged. Heart added that the business’ surveillance footage shows only a hand withdrawing from the broken window after the alarm was triggered.
Heart, whose husband reported the incident to the police, believes someone was trying to steal from the cafe’s cash register. That’s what happened almost exactly a year ago, on Jan. 29, she explained.
That time, the thief stole $200 from the cash register. “People have this assumption that restaurants and coffee shops have large amounts of cash; we never do,” Heart said. That burglar was soon caught by police.
The cafe owner said she’s thankful that none of her staff was inside at the time of this week’s alleged break-in. They’re a major reason why she doesn’t want to close, even now.
“I have a staff to take care of. If I close, they don’t get paid,” Heart said. “I think my goal is to remain open through whatever comes at me.”
Palm Coffee Bar has been in business for less than three years, according to Heart, and has recently become more self-sustaining. But like many small businesses, any extra cost — such as repairing the cafe’s window — is all the more burdensome.
And yet, because of the help she’s received from her community, Heart said she feels she’s reached success.
“I’m so thankful to have the support that I’ve gotten thus far. My jaw’s on the floor,” she added. “I couldn’t even fathom that people could really show up in this way for us.”
Heart asks anyone who wants to help pay for the cost of Palm Coffee Bar’s broken window to either purchase a drink or pastry for pick-up or delivery, or to donate at a link on the business’ Instagram page at @thepalmcoffeebar.