NoDa restaurant staff cleans up in wake of vandalism the night before charity drag brunch
Christa Csoka knew the monthly drag brunch at her NoDa restaurant had to go on.
The Artisan’s Palate “Mean Girls”-themed brunch Saturday was helping to raise money for Carolina Breast Friends — a local nonprofit that helps men and women in their journey with breast cancer.
But when her chef arrived around 7 a.m., she was met with an ugly scene. The glass on the front door had been smashed up. Someone had broken more glass on a garage door, leaving shards everywhere. The vandalism continued inside the restaurant where Csoka’s staff discovered broken liquor bottles and alcohol on the floor.
Whether the break-in was related to the restaurant holding a drag brunch is unclear, Csoka said. No arrests have been made as police continue to investigate.
The LGBTQ+ community around Artisan’s Palate has been on alert ever since a video posted to TikTok earlier this year by a lesbian couple and their young child at the restaurant’s fall drag brunch was shared out of context, Csoka said. A snippet of the video even appeared on Fox News. Csoka got personal death threats.
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Supporters of the restaurant also pointed out how last month a bill was filed by Republicans in the North Carolina House that would ban drag performances in public places or in the presence of minors.
Csoka will leave the police investigation to the professionals. She gave kudos to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, thanking officers for quickly responding to the incident when she had a tight turnaround to prep the restaurant for the brunch.
As a small business owner, the monthly brunch is a big financial help on top of raising money for a charity. The Saturday event raised a little more than $2,000, Csoka said.
“At the end of the day, you can’t let something like that stop you,” Csoka told The Charlotte Observer.
Picking up the pieces
After police responded, Csoka said her staff of 15 kicked into cleanup mode.
Artisan’s Palate was hosting 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. drag shows, and after picking up the glass shards, both went off with no problems. Csoka did have to interrupt one briefly as the glass company came by to take measurements to fix the broken garage door pane.
Csoka has video footage showing the person who broke in around 3:30 a.m. The person used a large rock to smash in the glass, she said.
She learned that other nearby businesses also have experienced recent break-ins.
While she was disheartened by what happened to her business, Csoka was amazed at the support from the community in the aftermath. Friends called and texted. Plus, the LGBTQ+ community showed up to support the restaurant.
“Through hate, love perseveres,” Csoka said as she got Artisan’s Palate ready for Sunday brunch. “That’s all I care about now.”