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Grandma J's, Humboldt Restaurant Accused of 'Gentrifying,' Vandalized Again

By Darryl Holliday | June 22, 2015 11:35am | Updated on June 23, 2015 10:35am

[Photo courtesy Grandma J's]

HUMBOLDT PARK — An act of vandalism was followed by theft and “a senseless act” of destruction when a brick was thrown through Grandma J’s window over the weekend.

The Humboldt Park eatery at 1552 N. Kedzie Ave. was then robbed of $200 in cash Saturday, June 20, owner Layla Malia said Monday. Malia kept a positive outlook despite this being the second recent attack on the restaurant — "Time to get shatter-free glass," she said.

The stolen amount wasn’t huge, but every dollar counts as a small business, she added — and, aside from the stolen cash, she estimates the shop’s busted door window will cost about $500-600 to replace.

An online crowdsource fundraiser was set up in the wake of the break-in that same day was already nearing its $2,000 goal by early Monday.

“Layla has lived in the Humboldt Park community for a long time and has served us all healthy, loving and amazing meals out of her restaurant named after her late mother,” reads the fundraiser page, posted by a friend of Grandma J’s, Jenny Korotko. “Please help me with my effort to give Layla the money she needs to fix her restaurant and not have to worry about this awful occurrence affecting her and her staff's income.”  

The robbery follows another act of vandalism earlier this month when the shop’s storefront glass was defaced with an anonymous message scrawled in black marker on June 2. The message read "Get out of Humboldt Park / Don't gentrify us / We won't be Wicker Park" and ignited a heated debate across the neighborhood about claims of gentrification and the role of locally-owned businesses within the community.

[Photo courtesy Grandma J's]

The local response to the graffiti "was amazing," Malia said a week after that incident. Community support in response to the vandalism sparked the best week of business in the shop’s history.

“It blew me away all week — just the support from everyone in the neighborhood; different ages, different ethnicities — I was very grateful,” she said.

Friends of Grandma J’s hope to see a similar outpouring following the most recent damage.

“Layla is raising her daughter by herself, works her butt off at her job and is very active in the community.  It is time to pay her back and let her know that she is loved, and we will rise above this senseless act of vandalism,” the fundraiser read.

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