New, loyal customers shows up to support Bridgeport café defaced with racist graffiti

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
New, loyal customers support café defaced with racist graffiti
Loyal customers are glad to see Sydney Blakely's Cook It Mama, Café back in business after it was defaced with racist graffiti in Bridgeport.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago café that was tagged last week with racist graffiti reopened Wednesday.

Loyal customers are glad to see Sydney Blakely's Cook It Mama, Café back in business.

"I'm very excited," customer Eva Kowalkowska said. "As soon as I saw the open sign, I said lunch time, I'm coming in."

"I'm feeling really good, really overwhelmed, really busy right now," Blakely said.

The Bridgeport business owner closed last week after racist graffiti was painted on her building.

News of the incident in this neighborhood with a history of racist incidents brought regulars and new customers for the re-opening.

"A lot of people in the neighborhood have been messaging and coming together because we don't want this neighborhood to be known that way," new customer Roberta Wood said. "We don't want a few bullies to define who we are and how we are seen."

"I feel like coming out to support the cafe is something we have to do for ourselves," new customer Victoria Sanchez said. "We are here to progress, to move forward and diversify our neighborhood."

Among the customers was 11th Ward Alderman Nicole Lee, who helped Blakely clean up last week.

Lee said there have been three other incidents of someone painting BLDM in the area in the last week. The acronym is believed to mean Black Lives Don't Matter. Each one was cleaned up or painted over.

"It has no place here," Lee said. "It's not what the community wants. It's not the community we are or aspire to be."

Unfortunately, the artist will have to repaint Blakely's mural. And while Chicago police investigate the incidents, Blakely says she is moving forward, grateful for the support and focused on keeping up on all the new business.

"It's amazing to see everyone came out to show their support. I'm hiring!" she said.