Shouk owner focuses on humanity after burning, looting

Shouk restaurant in Washington was vandalized on Sunday night. Photo courtesy of Ron Nussbacher

Windows were broken, a fire was set and electronics stolen on Sunday night, but what is undamaged at Shouk restaurant in Washington is its CEO and founder’s optimism about the future.

“It is my hope and my belief that this will bring about change,” Ran Nussbacher said about the damage and looting at his plant-based kosher restaurant on 655 K Street NW in the Mt. Vernon Triangle.

During protests that turned violent following the strangulation death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Shouk was damaged badly.

“A good number of our windows and our door were shattered,” said Nussbacher, who co-owns the restaurant with Dennis Friedman. After that, “a mob kind of rushed through and ripped some computer screens off the wall. We use them for ordering.”

Also, rioters broke decorative tiles and stole small electronic tablets.

“A fire was set. It didn’t develop too badly. It set off the sprinklers,” Nussbacher said, adding that there was “significant water damage.”

It is too early to estimate a dollar figure on the damages, he said.

Despite the destruction, Nussbacher, who was born in Israel, said he is not bitter.

“What is happening now is, I think, a long time coming,” he said of the reaction to killings of unarmed African Americans.  “It’s clear something is really broken.”

Nussbacher said he does not condone violence, but that he “100 percent agrees with and stands with the plight of African Americans or anybody who stands for injustice.”

Posted on Shouk’s website is the message, “While we are sad that this has happened, we continue to stand in solidarity with those marching to make their voices heard. Rebuilding our restaurant is easy compared with the hard work we all must do to address the structural injustice that plagues our communities. Black Lives Matter”.

Shouk, which has been open for almost four years, features pitas, bowls and salads. A second restaurant is located in the Union Market District.

The restaurant’s plant-based menu “doesn’t end with food or with animals,” Nussbacher said, explaining it extends to his feelings for humanity.

Suzanne Pollak is a Washington-area writer.

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