In the early hours of Friday the 13th, Wendy Smith Born and James Barrett’s Metropolitan Cafe was burglarized by a lowlife with biblical tastes in forced entry. Around 4:40 a.m., security cameras caught a male criminal heaving a huge rock through the glass front door of the cafe, which the partners opened in February next to their flagship bakery after two decades in the Philly bread business.
Born was alerted of a motion-sensor trip by her alarm company, initially chalking it up to a bag of freshly delivered bread that’s accidentally slipped off a counter (it’s happened before). It wasn’t until a sales associate who lives upstairs from the cafe checked on the scene that she and Born alerted police.
Since Metro doesn’t keep cash on the premises, the stone-thrower got away with nothing more than a couple handfuls of quarters during the robbery, which Born estimates took about 90 seconds. But she’s about a grand in the hole for her door, which is made with tempered double-pane glass.
Initially shaken, Born and her employees sprang into action after cops surveyed the scene, sweeping up and boarding the door with painted plywood (it’ll take a few weeks for replacement glass to be fabricated and installed). The cafe was able to accommodate customers, packing in for coffee, lunch, weekend bread and Yom Kippur fast-breaking fodder, a mere three hours after missing its scheduled 7:30 a.m opening.
“When you’re a place that people are accustomed to coming to on a daily basis and they see something like that, they feel personally affronted in a way,” says Born of the concern Metro patrons have expressed. “To me, the whole thing was turning it around, because we had customers immediately. They shouldn’t be burdened. Our customers have been wonderful.”
Not one to waste anything, Born has also repurposed the rock used in the break-in for an unexpected purpose. She and Barrett had already been shopping around for a new doorstop — they weren’t expecting to get one hand-delivered, but it did allow them to save on shipping. “When you walk by, you’ll see it,” says Born. “It’s a pretty nice rock.”