Crown Heights eatery Lakou Cafe bounces back after break-in with donation from local leaders

people pose outside lakou cafe in crown heights
Local leaders worked together to help small business Lakou Cafe get back on its feet after a break-in last month.
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce awarded Crown Heights eatery Lakou Cafe with a $5,000 check to help get the shop back on its feet after the business was broken into last month. 

According to cafe owner Cassandre Davilmar, her Haitian restaurant was devastated when someone broke into the shop overnight on May 19. Staff members showed up to work the next morning to find the glass door shattered and cash register gone.

The shop owner said the community quickly came to her support, offering donations and attending their events. 

Randy Peers, CEO and president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, reached out to her and offered the chamber’s support.

“Tragically, Lakou Cafe was a victim of a break-in just last month,” he said. “Through our partnership with Cross River Bank, we are happy to help the Haitian hot spot with expenses and inventory replacement in the aftermath of this robbery.”

Davilmar, who was out of town during the time of the break in, said the cafe had to shut down for the better half of the day, causing them to lose quite a bit of their morning sales. 

“People tend to come more for breakfast and lunch so, you know, that was definitely a hit,” she said.

Her staff quickly got the area cleaned up and secured a second cash register in order to open up later in the afternoon, and were even able host a Haitian Heritage Month event they had planned for that evening. 

“It seemed like they had a good turnout and a lot of people came to support the cafe after what they had heard happened,” the shop owner said. “Overall I would say we got a lot of support from the community so even though something like this happened, which isn’t great, it’s good to know that they had our back.”

Davilmar used the supplemental funds from the chamber to cover losses, repair costs and purchase a rollup gate to provide extra security.

“We felt pretty safe in the neighborhood and theft or burglary had never been a thing that affected us so we kind of trusted the neighborhood,” she said. “So just to be extra safe, you know we got a roll up gate to prevent something like this from happening again.”

According to the most recent NYPD data, overall crime in the 77th Precinct — which includes the cafe — is down 18% compared to last year, with burglaries down over 16%. Despite the decline, Davilamr says it doesn’t feel like there’s less crime in the area. 

“The emotional and financial impacts of crime can break a business,” Peers said. “An annual survey of Chamber members released this year showed fear of crime at an all-time-high; and the chamber is working with city and state officials to make Brooklyn safer for small businesses.”

With the help of the chamber, Lakou Cafe is back to serving Haitian cuisine at their restaurant. The 195 Utica Ave. eatery is open every day from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

“We are proud of Cassandre’s resilience and glad to know that she will continue serving up delicious Creole meals in Crown Heights,” Peers said.