Published in Food/Agribusiness
Irie Kitchen ‘basically targeted’ by vandalism, separate from weekend protest COURTESY PHOTO: IRIE KITCHEN

Irie Kitchen ‘basically targeted’ by vandalism, separate from weekend protest

BY Wednesday, June 03, 2020 06:30pm

GAINES TOWNSHIP — A black-owned business south of Grand Rapids was “basically targeted,” owners said today after discovering shattered windows at their restaurant.

Irie Kitchen LLC, an authentic Jamaican restaurant in Gaines Township, was vandalized early this morning. Restaurant owners found the damage to their restaurant at noon today, but the incident occurred at about 1 a.m. this morning, said Irie Kitchen Manager Albert Mvula. 

Shattered glass covered the floor of the restaurant from windows that had been broken in several places on the business. Irie Kitchen is located south of M-6 at 6630 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, a roughly 15 minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids.

“We were the only restaurant in the area that was hit,” Mvula said. “We were basically targeted.”

Mvula said information on the incident was provided to police today. The Records Division of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office was unavailable for comment early Wednesday evening.

The incident comes three days after many downtown Grand Rapids businesses were damaged over the weekend after a protest of police brutality. The protest was attended by 3,000-4,500 people on May 30, and ended in looting and damage to 100 downtown businesses. 

Irie Kitchen has been closed throughout the pandemic, but posted on its Instagram Tuesday that it was planning to reopen soon. The restaurant also wanted to be considerate, Mvula said, and not conduct business during police brutality protests taking place locally and around the world after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis when multiple police kneeled on his body and neck. 

A GoFundMe was started to raise money to repair the restaurant and to help cover expenses and lost revenue from being closed over the last three months. As of Wednesday evening, donors contributed more than $30,000 to the business. The GoFundMe description says the restaurant was planning to reopen June 12 before it was damaged.

“There’s never been a more important time to support black businesses,” reads part of the GoFundMe description. “With everyone’s support we can help get Irie Kitchen back on their feet.”

Family and friends came to the restaurant to help clean up the damage. 

“We’re just grateful (for) everyone’s support,” Mvula said. “Thank you for everything despite the negative actions that happened.” 

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