Arsonists Burn Jewish Eatery in Hollywood

Masked arsonists broke into a kosher restaurant in Hollywood on Friday, causing significant damage to Jewish eatery.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

Restaurant (illustration)
Restaurant (illustration)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Two masked arsonists broke into a kosher restaurant in Hollywood, Florida on Friday, spilling flammable liquid on the kitchen floor, causing significant damage to the Jewish eatery, The Sun-Sentinel reported.

The restaurant is located on the same strip mall as a Judaica store that became the site of a similar arson attack last year.

While it remains unclear as to whether Friday’s attack at the Achla Pita Grill is linked to the blaze that destroyed Holyland Judaica store on Dec. 1, 2011, both businesses were set aflame in the predawn hours, when they were closed, resulting in no injuries from the incidents.

There were no spray-painted hate messages at either attack site at Emerald Center, located in a heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in west Hollywood, according to reports

"I have no indication at this time that this is a hate crime," Hollywood Police Lt. Nicole Coffin said Friday afternoon. "And there is no indication that the prior incident was a hate crime, either."

Ilan Timianski, 46, a native of Israel who owns Achla Pita Grill, said police told him they initially believed the fire to be a hate crime, but then voiced their doubts, saying perhaps it wasn’t, The Sun-Sentinel reported.

The arsonists "didn't touch the cashier," Timianski said. "They didn't touch anything. They came to cause damage."

The two assailants, who wore hoods and ski masks to conceal their faces, first unsuccessfully tried to break into Achla Bon Ami, a sushi restaurant adjacent to the pita grill, which is also owned by Timianski, according to the newspaper.

Timianski said the fire fizzled out overnight. It caused moderate damage, including smoke damage, officials said.

Timianski said it could take a month to reopen Achla Pita Grill. The repairs include fixing or replacing his damaged refrigerators and walk-in freezer, he said.

In a December interview, Judaica store owner Michael Katz said the crime at his business was "either random vandalism or it was anti-Semitism." He said, "There was nothing taken. So you have to ask, 'Why focus on a place like this?'"