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Raleigh business owners hit hard by riots continue to pick up pieces

Local business owners across downtown Raleigh continue to pick up the pieces after waves of rioting last weekend left a slew of businesses damaged.

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Kirsten Gutierrez
, WRAL reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — Local business owners across downtown Raleigh continue to pick up the pieces after waves of rioting last weekend left a slew of businesses damaged.

With damage to repair and a curfew in place citywide after protests and riots in the wake of the George Floyd death, it’s forcing some places that just reopened to close up shop. Business owners who spoke with WRAL said the curfew seems to be working.

However, many are afraid it might not be enough to stop those who want to cause destruction from sweeping through downtown Raleigh once again. For Caffe Luna’s owner, shutting down the city at 8 p.m. because of the curfew means he can’t open his restaurant for dinner.

“It was on Saturday night when the rioting began, and they broke out about 10 windows and later in the evening, they went into those windows and got some wine, cases of wine," said Parker Kennedy, owner of Caffe Luna.

Kennedy is just one of many business owners in downtown Raleigh left with a mess still to clean up.

“Four or five windows had been absolutely smashed out," said Tyler Helikson, the CEO and co-founder of Happy + Hale. "That was Saturday night.”

Dozens of businesses were hit hard following several nights of rioting and chaos.

“During dinner, we still had people seated in the restaurant," Parker said. "They had a potato gun and a big chunk of asphalt in it, I mean this big, that big, and they shot it through the window and projected into the restaurant about 25 feet. Of course, the customers are terrified, obviously.”

Some places like Happy + Hale were hit two nights in a row.

“We had been smashed again," Helikson said. "The alarm was going off. This was significant damage.”

The destruction comes as many places were just starting to reopen in Phase 2 after the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday the citywide curfew went into effect, shutting down the city from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.

“We have not been damaged since the curfew has been in effect, so obviously that’s been incredible positive," Helikson said.

For some places like Caffe Luna, the curfew harms potential business, too.

“The problem with the curfew is that since it’s at 8 o’clock, we cannot open in the evening," Kennedy said. "But it's still going to be unsettling for people to come downtown or really go anywhere.”

While the damage is a burden to clean up, some companies are focusing on a much bigger issue.

“Yes it’s frustrating, but that pales in comparison to what the black community has been going through for centuries, and it’s really hard for me to be mad about glass that can be replaced and insurance can cover when there’s such deeper issues in this country,” Helikson said.

Right now, Kennedy doesn’t know when Caffe Luna can reopen. He said once the curfew is lifted, he’ll have a better idea on when they can. Helikson said Happy + Hale plans to reopen by the end of next week.


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