Jaswinder Sandhu was working alone in the back room of her restaurant on Bridge Street in Princeton, shortly after midnight on May 3.
The door to Pasha Pizza was locked and the lights were out.
Sandhu heard a noise and moved to the front of the store to investigate, where she saw a man smashing the door to the establishment.
She waved her hands and yelled “don’t do that, don’t do that,” before the vandal fled, smashing the large front window as he ran along the street.
“I don’t know why this would happen,” she said.
It took less than a day for customers of the popular Indian and Italian take-out eatery to get together and raise money to help Sandhu pay the insurance deductible on the damage.
Kassidy McCutcheon started a Go Fund Me page. It reached its $500 goal in 30 minutes and collected a total of $1,300 in 24 hours.
While Sandhu speaks with calm of the attack, her eyes fill with tears when she talks about the donations that were solicited without her knowledge.
“I have no words to say. There are no words to say thank you enough.”
In addition to the Go Fund Me page, others have brought her flowers and gifts, and she has experienced a hard-to-keep-up-with demand for orders from customers contributing large tips.
A list of everyone who donated is posted beside the till as a reminder of the town’s support.
McCutcheon said she ‘felt sick’ when she learned of the vandalism.
Sandhu, who has owned her own business since 2011, “is a kind and generous person…She is nothing but kind and deserves to know she’s appreciated.”
It’s well known people in need can sometimes find a free slice at Pasha’s, and the restaurant supports community events.
Sandhu has also worked seven days a week, a minimum of 12 hours a day, staying open during the pandemic.
She hasn’t had a day off since the COVID crisis began.
“I want to make sure everyone is taken care of.”
Pasha Pizza is the only restaurant in Princeton open until 11 p.m. Sandhu said she wants to know everyone, especially travellers at that time of night, “can be fed.”
Police are investigating the crime, said RCMP Sergeant Rob Hughes, and are reviewing security camera videotapes from neighbouring stores.
Police were told that sometime May 2 there was a disruption in the business and a couple was asked to leave the premises.
At this time there is no evidence the incidents are connected, said Hughes.
Sandhu said she doesn’t know if the vandalism is related to a disgruntled customer.
If someone has a complaint “they need to talk to me. We will always make it right. We will make their meal again or do [what we have to].”
However – and despite Princeton’s lack of ethnic diversity – she is certain the incident was not racially motivated.
“I have never, ever felt that here…we are all the same.”
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