"We're doing our best": Chinatown business defiant despite string of break-ins

Sep 18 2023, 10:54 pm

Staff at a business in Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood are dealing with the aftermath of another vandalism, the third in less than a month.

Dalina, which has been a fixture on Main Street and East Georgia since 2016, has seen a series of break-ins and other crimes, prompting the café’s director of operations to speak out.

“We’ve been doing our best for a number of years. Obviously, with the pandemic things got worse,” Stephanie Kayser told Daily Hive.

She says as a result, the shop has been forced to close earlier at night this summer and implement safety strategies, but unfortunately, she says her staff has still been at the end of random violence way too often.

Vancouver break-ins

A smashed window from September 18. Submitted

“We’re doing everything we can to try to work with all the residents that come from all different walks of life, and then to be met with such constant kind of aggressive behavior and violence,” she said.

Two weeks ago one of the baristas had a knife pulled on them by a regular at the cafe. She says the person lives in the Downtown Eastside and had been getting free food from staff as they try to help him.

“In the last month, you know, the loading docks have been broken into twice. We have the knife incident and then we’ve just had our third attempted break-in where the windows were smashed in the last three weeks. So I mean, even the glass repair companies that come they’re like, ‘Well, it might be a month or two for this glass to get repaired because there’s such a shortage in the city.'”

The repairs, along with a decline in customers, had further impacted the business’ bottom line during an already challenging time.


The back window was damaged on August 12. Submitted

“We recently installed a panic button so that we can have help as quickly as possible. We do a lot of huddles where we talk about safety scares every day,” she said.

Dalina Vancouver restaurant glass smashed door

The patio door was damaged on August 11. Submitted

However, while there are growing calls for more to be done on repeat offenders and mental health support in BC, Kayser said she wants to encourage people to support the community first and forecast.

“I think there could be some creative solutions around commercial vacancies. I think when storefronts are left empty for several years or longer, it really impacts the neighborhood.

“We have to be here, we have to have the lights on, and we have to be doing the best we can every day to give great service to all the residents of Chinatown and Gastown and the surrounding areas,” Kayser said.

“To all the retailers out there, hold your ground, keep the lights on. And hopefully, we can move Chinatown forward into a more positive direction.”

Claire FentonClaire Fenton

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