At 3:30 a.m. Oct. 27, three individuals crashed a vehicle into the front of Poverty Bay Cafe in Federal Way, shattering the glass that made up the storefront and damaging the frame.
Security video footage from Poverty Bay shows that the individuals backed a truck with no license plates into the building. They entered the premises, but were unable to access anything of great value.
“We do a really good job of locking everything up, so they ransacked the office and the drawers, and they went through everything in the building,” FUSION Executive Director David Harrison told The Federal Way Mirror newspaper. “Once they realized there’s nothing here to take, they grabbed two Cokes, got back in the truck, and drove away.”
Poverty Bay Cafe closed during the pandemic but has since reopened under the management of local nonprofit FUSION at 1108 S. 322nd Place.
The organization also owns and operates the home goods boutique next door, and the proceeds of both businesses go toward FUSION’s work to serve homeless families in Federal Way. The cafe has been a staple in Federal Way since 1989, and reopened on April 1 of this year.
“The community has rediscovered Poverty Bay and we’re very grateful for all of the people who’ve been returning customers and new customers. This is a little bump in the road, but we’ll be reopened again tomorrow,” Harrison said in an interview on Oct. 27.
After the Poverty Bay Cafe staff saw the damage when they arrived to work at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning, they called local police. In a press release, FUSION and the cafe said that “the Federal Way Police Department arrived and reviewed security camera footage and documented the incident. Their response was quick, efficient, and greatly appreciated.”
The damage to the building is estimated at $20,000 to $30,000, according to Harrison. Contractors from Metropolitan Contracting LLC were already at work on a temporary storefront less than 12 hours after the incident, allowing the cafe to only lose one day of business.
In a statement from FUSION and Poverty Bay Cafe, the organization encouraged people to reach out if they need help.
“We are an organization dedicated to providing support and housing to families in our community who are experiencing homelessness. Turning to crime and theft is not the answer,” they said in the press release. “We understand the desperation that can push individuals to make the wrong choices, and we urge anyone who needs a helping hand to take advantage of our resources. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out to us at FusionHousing.org/contact.”
The cafe has another level of impact aside from the proceeds of sales. Using a model similar to the FareStart program in Seattle, Harrison said that FUSION is already utilizing the cafe as a job training program to help people gain skills and experience. Culinary and customer service skills training will be another way to help community members find long-term stability.
There are already four people getting job skills training at Poverty Bay Cafe and the full program will launch after the first of the year.
Harrison said the goal has been to “get the cafe reopened and get it stabilized and ideally to break even. We are approaching that.” On the importance of the program itself, Harrison said: “It’s a tool for us to do something bigger.”
The cafe was already back open on Saturday, Oct. 28, with regular hours, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.