DC restaurant owner at wits’ end over crime, break-ins

Menomale, a pizza restaurant in Northeast D.C., was burglarized earlier this week.(Courtesy Menomale)

When someone busted open the door at Menomale, and burglarized the Northeast D.C. pizza restaurant earlier this week, owner Mariya Rusciano was not necessarily surprised.

That in and of itself is a problem, Rusciano said.

“It used to be abnormal, and now we perceive it as normal,” Rusciano told WTOP. “Every time the holidays come, we just feel a sense of anxiety and … the anticipation like something might happen at any moment.”

Rusciano’s response to the crime gained some local attention, as she posted on social media that D.C., which has been experiencing a spike in crime, had “fallen into anarchy.”

“We have no cash on premises, discourage cash payments, keep the minimum supplies in stock,” Rusciano wrote. “There is literally nothing to rob, but the criminals do not care.”

Rusciano’s business has been at its location in D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood for 11 years.

Initially, she did not have to deal with the type of crime she’s currently enduring, Rusciano said. Now, it’s creating a constant state of unease.

According to Rusciano, Menomale has been broken into about five times in recent years, and it’s happened about three times at her nearby Italian deli called Salumeria.

“I think that the city is experiencing an abnormal time. I don’t believe that this is the normal state of affairs,” Rusciano said. “We are really looking out to city leadership to take bold steps to address this and reassure people that D.C. is safe and that D.C. has wonderful businesses worth visiting.”

As Rusciano said in her social media statement, her business does not keep much money in the cash register.

“They look for cash but don’t find any,” Rusciano said, referencing the burglaries. “They will go for merchandise, typically liquor or wine.”

Rusciano tries to stay positive about the whole situation, saying she believes that “better times are ahead.”

In the meantime, she’s hoping to see city leaders take a more hard-line stance.

“I think the residents are frustrated, and business owners are frustrated,” Rusciano said. “We’re looking for some bold action, because it’s just not normal for people to be afraid to go out.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up