Metro Weekly

Man Shatters Gay-Owned Restaurant’s Glass Door with Hammer

Chicago venue R Public House targeted by a man who picked a fight with two patrons as part of a suspected hate crime.

A photo of the damage done to the door of Chicago restaurant R Public House – Photo: Renee Labrana, via Facebook.

A gay-owned restaurant in Chicago had its front glass door shattered in what is being classified as a possible hate crime. 

The incident occurred on Monday evening at R Public House, a bar and restaurant located in the city’s Rogers Park neighborhood, around 5: 30 p.m.

According to owners Renee Labrana and Sandra Carter, a man on the street began harassing two customers as they approached the restaurant, and challenged the two to a fight. The man followed the patrons inside before being told to leave the restaurant. Once outside, he pulled out a hammer, shattered the glass of the front door, and ran off, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Carter said the incident scared some patrons, who ran out the back door with a manager after the man shattered the window. 

“They weren’t sure if it was gunshots,” she said of the sound of the glass breaking. “And knowing the horrific hate crimes that have happened in different bars, it was scary.”

Labrana and Carter told the Sun-Times that they had left the bar shortly before the attack occurred and returned to speak with police officers and download surveillance footage. The attack has since been labeled a hate crime by police.

The Chicago Police Department reported 177 hate crimes in 2022, nearly more than half of hate crimes recorded from 2018-2020, and the highest on record in the past 11 years, according to department statistics. Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes comprise about 1 out of every 4 hate crimes reported in the city. 

“It’s very frustrating and disconcerting because we live in this neighborhood because it’s so diverse, and we love that about the neighborhood,” Labrana said. “So you tend to forget that there’s people that hate you out there just for who you love. And it makes me really angry that we even have to think about it.”

Labrana and Carter say they’ve never had their restaurant attacked before, even when they’ve hosted drag brunches, which have become a cultural flashpoint in recent years, with some right-wing agitators seeking to shut down drag-themed events over claims that such events “indoctrinate children.”

But the couple also say they’re positive that their neighbors and patrons will stand by them.

“We can safely say that we know that the community will rally around us,” Carter said. “We’re not afraid.”

On Tuesday, on its Facebook page, R Public House posted a message thanking the community for its support, including financial support, in the aftermath of the incident.

The restaurant also announced that any proceeds that exceed the cost of replacing the door will be donated to the local neighborhood food pantry “A Just Harvest.”

“After an unfortunate incident of homophobia, we have felt an overwhelming outpouring of love. Our local elected government officials along with our police department have all reached out to offer support. So many of you want to help,” the message reads. “Doors are replaceable, you are not!”

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