Fans rally behind burgled vegan co-op and raise over £1,000

Popular workers co-op Black Cat Cafe was burgled before a busy Saturday, costing it thousands of pounds in damage and lost trade – only to see the losses covered...

Popular workers co-op Black Cat Cafe was burgled before a busy Saturday, costing it thousands of pounds in damage and lost trade – only to see the losses covered by the vegan community.

The east London ethical eatery had its glass front door shattered and cash stolen on the night of 14/15 October but quickly reopened thanks to well-wishers’ support.

A £1,000 online fundraising target was smashed within a few hours but the page is open until the end of the month to further support the co-op.

Sean O’Collaghan, a blogger known as Fat Gay Vegan, who set up the fundraising page, told Co-operative News: “As soon as I heard the news, my first response was how can our community help the cafe.

“Black Cat is not just a place to eat; it is a cultural and social support hub for many people and has been for many years.

The cafe had to close on the busiest day of the week (c) Black Cat Cafe on Facebook
The cafe had to close on the busiest day of the week (c) Black Cat Cafe on Facebook

“I’m not surprised that people were so keen to help Black Cat. Our community can be extremely loyal.

“The café has consistently good food, great politics, they support charities and do terrific things besides being one of the best places to eat in London.”

Money donated will go towards repairing the front door, replacing stolen cash, repairing the stolen till system and covering revenue lost when the cafe had to close.

A 25kg block of cement ­– which is thought to have been used to break the door – was found by the cafe’s chef Nacho Gomez, who said almost £200 was stolen.

Two people are reported to have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Mr Gomez told Co-operative News: “We think the biggest loss was that we couldn’t open for the morning trade, which means we lost around £1,400, plus the door cost of £350.

“Sean from Fat Gay Vegan transferred money from his own pocket that same night.

“We are overwhelmed by the support received – from costumers to suppliers and even the local vicar – as we didn’t even need to ask for help; we just made a post letting customers know we didn’t know when we would be opening.

“Next thing we knew nearly £1,600 was raised and our social media walls were full of supporting messages.”

He added: “We like to think that we are not just a place to get food –we try to support different dissident movements, like animal rights groups and social justice organisations, and I think people appreciate that and support us.”

Reopening the store the following day, the co-op posted on Instagram: “We would like to thank you all for your support and kind wishes after a rough morning for Black Cat. Our community is strong and beautiful.”

Black Cat Cafe serves vegan milkshakes, snacks, meals and coffees, and runs a small shop with specialty vegan products.

The eatery’s base was formerly home to the Pogo Café, also a vegan cafeteria, until it closed after eight years in 2013.

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