Stepped-Up Security After Hate Messages at Deerfield Beach Restaurant

Mozart Cafe owner Shimi Avini has received 3 hate messages in 3 months

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Deerfield Beach kosher restaurant Mozart Cafe has received three hate messages in the past few months. Owner Shimi Avini says it has employees worried and customers scared. (Published Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012)

    Mozart Café opened in Deerfield Beach in September. The new kosher restaurant has been well-received by the community.

    But three hate messages that owner Shimi Avini has received in as many months have made some of his employees worried and some of his customers scared.

    The first expletive-ridden note was put in the window of his car.

    Another note, scribbled on a Broward County bus pass, said “take the long way home" with the star of David drawn in the center.

    "The first time I read it I said ‘Oh, it’s a stupid kid (that did) this – it's a joke,” Avini said.

    By the second time, he called the Broward Sherriff's Office. Its hate crimes task force is now investigating. The FBI has also gotten involved.

    Avini himself has stepped up security. There are now 24 video surveillance cameras at the Mozart Cafe, up from the 8 they started with.

    Avini also now locks the back gate, because a week before the messages started appearing, the restaurant had a suspicious gas leak. Customers and staff were forced to evacuate.

    "You need a special key to open it. It cannot open by itself,” he explained. “Somebody did it.”

    Avini added that he hopes the two aren’t connected, though he suspects the incidents aren’t a coincidence. Authorities have not confirmed they are related.

    But now BSO patrol cars often swing by and check in on the restaurant. The Anti-Defamation League is also offering support.

    "This is something to take seriously,” said Andrew Rosenkranz, the Florida regional director of the ADL. “When it happens to any group in our community there need to be people to say this is unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable.”

    The ADL is inviting the community to join them at the Mozart Cafe on Tuesday for a night of solidarity. The event starts at 6 p.m.