SOLANA BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) - A Solana Beach cafe closed its doors after their outdoor dining furniture was stolen.
Owner Marie Brawn stood in the vacant concrete pad in front of her beloved Homestead Cafe and Market Friday morning telling surprised customers they weren't opening today.
"I just couldn't do it this morning, so we closed," she said disheartened.
Seven tables and chairs were stolen in a rash of thefts down Cedros Avenue on Tuesday morning before dawn.
Brawn said when she and her husband arrived to open later that day, they were confused. Tables and chairs were knocked over and about a fourth were missing. At first, Brawn thought a neighbor borrowed the tables, then it sunk in.
"It was just this moment of defeat, just one more notch, like really, just one more thing we need in our way," she said.
Brawn achieved her dream of opening a restaurant with her husband just 18 months before the pandemic. Her whole life has centered around food. She started working in the restaurant business at 15 years old and met her husband through work. It took 10 years to open Homestead.
When the pandemic hit, she said, "we just pivoted, we became an organic market with our cafe and we moved everybody outside."
Neighbors pitched in, the farmer's market loaned tables, the landlord allowed them to expand to the parking lot. They were rebounding from the closure.
Brawn said each time the business was doing well and they saved up enough money, they would buy another umbrella for the outdoor seating.
"Small businesses are struggling, we're all struggling and to be hit with something like this on top of it all, sometimes you wake up and wonder what is the purpose of it all," she said.
Looking around after the theft, it's barren.
Brawn said they felt obligated to return the loaned tables, "we gave them their stuff back because we can't afford to replace it."
Now they have seven tables and no way to scrape by. Brawn said they have to have maximum capacity with COVID-19 standards in place to start to make a profit.
Brawn said she's fueled to continue because of the charity work she and her husband do with +Box.
"Right now he's dropping off about 600 meals, so each box feed about a family of four," Brawn said. The non-profit was created to fill a need during the pandemic, feeding struggling families. Brawn and her husband have donated 14,000 meals so far.
The boxes hold grains, vegetables, and other items Brawn said are hard for families to get. The non-profit helps neighborhoods all over North County and Brawn hopes others will extend the same kindness.
"When you're down, help someone else because if we all do that it's like a domino effect and before you know it we're all going to be in a better place so we have to stick together," she said.
Brawn created a GoFundMe for their restaurant and to help them continue giving to the community. If you would like to donate, please click here.
Brawn says she will announce when they reopen on Instagram.