Robbers assaulted one man and escaped with an unspecified amount of cash in a Sunday-night armed robbery of the Al La Kebab outdoor restaurant at Lawrence Boulevard’s Marquee Plaza.
Two masked assailants approached the eatery, demanding cash from the five staffers, then turned on customers waiting in line at the order window.
In a statement issued Monday, police said officers received a report at 8:20 p.m. that two men with covered faces had robbed the food stand.
“Both men were armed with guns, and an employee of the food stand was hit with a gun during the incident,” according to police.
The employee was treated and released, a police spokesman said.
“The culprits also demanded a wallet from a patron before running down Lawrence Boulevard in the direction of Camana Bay, firing one shot in the air,” according to the statement.
Restaurant owner Alan Silverman, who has operated the restaurant for 16 years, said one of the robbers had hit the staffer, a trainee, in the head with the barrel of a gun, although he was relatively unhurt. He said at least one, possibly two, shots were fired during the incident.
The five staff on duty – two in the rear of the restaurant, two at the service window and one trainee – immediately called police, who arrived quickly, but were too late to apprehend either of the attackers.
Mr. Silverman expressed dismay, saying he was not concerned for the monetary losses, but for the safety of both employees and patrons, and a mounting local reputation for crime.
“There’s a lot of anger and frustration. I worry what Cayman is coming to. We’re a family restaurant, but one of my guys was hit with a gun … he’s a new guy; he came here to work, and I was hoping to keep him,” Mr. Silverman said.
He blamed the attack on “the same guys” who staged a similar Sunday evening attack on March 21 at West Bay’s Al Fresco restaurant, when three masked assailants invaded the waterfront eatery just after 9 p.m. While two of the robbers accosted customers on the outdoor terrace, a third emptied the cash register indoors.
One patron scuffled with the attackers, who took wallets and other belongings. During the struggle one of the robbers struck the patron in the head, while the other fired a shot in the air. Police said all three fled in a silver car.
“At first, he thought he got bumped on the shoulder,” Mr. Silverman said describing the assault on the trainee. “Then he turned and had a gun barrel pointed in his face.”
The plaza, he said, had been “fairly lively” on Sunday night, with several bars and restaurants open. “This could have happened to any of them and any of the people there could have been held up.”
Next, he said, Al La Kebab would regroup, offering counseling to staff and get back to business, while reinforcing security measures.
“I just want to apologize to anyone who’s been affected by this,” Mr. Silverman said.
Marquee Plaza owner and landlord Joe Imparato acknowledged that security cameras had not been working and few guards were on duty Sunday evening.
“No, there weren’t any [cameras]. They had not been replaced,” he said. “They were knocked out by Hurricane Ivan, and we realized they were not doing us any good. They weren’t keeping anyone out, weren’t keeping out the riff-raff.”
The Al La Kebab robbery would inspire a review and possible replacement: “We’ll have to give it some thought,” Mr. Imparato said.