The Jewish-style restaurant was severely defaced after closing time on Tuesday, with computers, toilets, plates and refrigerators smashed, the cash register removed, urine on the floors, and writing on the walls. Owner David Ruggerio would not say what was written on the walls, only that it was “ugly stuff.”
In today’s article, the Post says the writing and symbols on the wall were was anti-Semitic, although the newspaper doesn’t go into what was specifically written. Ruggerio himself is Italian, but said he would be offended if he was Jewish. When we first asked the NYPD if this was a bias crime, they said it was classified as a burglary. It’s not clear whether it’s also being treated as a bias crime.
The Post says police are looking at the possibility that a disgruntled dishwasher who had been laid off a few weeks ago committed the act. The ex-worker and a woman had broken into the restaurant after the firing and slept there, cooking breakfast for themselves in the morning, Ruggerio said. In that break-in the worker had apparently written graffiti with the letters NOPOLR and the word California, which was also found on the walls on Wednesday.
Ruggerio, who owns other restaurants like Jalapeno and Bomboloni and used to own Sushi A Go-Go before it closed last year, pleaded guilty in 1999 to padding customers’ credit card bills by adding extra tips. He also declared bankruptcy last year for Jalapeno and Bomboloni. As an up and coming chef, he appeared on the Food Network and PBS in the 90’s.
Ruggerio still hopes to open back up tonight.