A Middle Eastern restaurant in Oakland, owned by an Israeli Jew and an American, was vandalized Tuesday morning with a sticky slurry of what might have been feces.
The owners of Ba-Bite, at 3905 Piedmont Ave., believe that the vandalism may be related to their vocal pro-immigrant stance and the fact they declare themselves a “sanctuary restaurant.” They have a sign in the window that reads: “Sanctuary restaurant: A place at the table for everyone,” as well as one that reads: “We stand with our Muslim, Arab and Immigrant neighbors.”
Staff arriving at Ba-Bite Tuesday morning found what one described as a “shit slurry” on front windows, and over the area of the sign on the front door, said Mica Talmor, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Robert Gott.
Asked whether she thought the vandalism was associated with the restaurant’s stance on immigrants, Talmor said: “I can’t assume it, but the liquid was well positioned.”
The owners said they refuse to be intimidated by the vandalism, nor will they take down the signs proclaiming that all are welcome there.
“I don’t feel scared or intimidated in any way,” said Talmor, who not only emigrated from Israel to the U.S. but whose ancestors survived the Holocaust. “We may not have influence on what happens outside our doors, but we have influence on what happens inside, and that represents us.”
Ironically Gott was attending a conference in Washington D.C. put on by ROC United (Restaurant Opportunities Centers United), the organization that started the sanctuary restaurant movement, when the vandalism happened.
Talmor said she was proud of the way the staff handled the incident. An Israeli and a Jordanian employee worked together to clean up the mess — then “we opened the restaurant and moved on,” she said.
Talmor did not report the vandalism to the police. “It’s Oakland, they have bigger fish to fry,” she said.
Ba-Bite and the couple’s catering company, Savoy Events, employ numerous immigrants and refugees from around the world.
Ba-Bite is known for its creamy hummus and other Middle Eastern fare.