A Saturday-evening act of vandalism at Ms. Cheezious turned into a story worthy of a classic holiday redemption movie.
As co-owner Brian Mullins tells it, it all started when two young men and two young women walked into the Upper Eastside restaurant maskless on Saturday evening. Mullins wasn't there, but he says one of his employees asked the group to put on facemasks. "They said they didn't have any," says Mullins, explaining that he has empowered his employees to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask. The group was asked to leave.
A security camera caught the two couples standing outside the door on Biscayne Boulevard for a few minutes after they departed. One man picks up a woman and flips and hugs her. Then, while the two women look at their phones, the two men approach the door. They're off camera for a second before water begins gushing and they all run away.
Mullins said that the men had apparently broken the waterline to the restaurant, forcing his employees to close while he rushed to the scene to try to repair the damage.
The Ms. Cheezious owner then turned to social media to try to track down the culprits. TMZ picked up the story, which went viral. Mullins, with the help of tips via Instagram, said he figured out who the culprits were. When he reached out, they'd deleted their accounts.
Then, out of the blue, Mullins got a call about 11:30 Sunday morning. "He said he was one of the guys from Saturday evening and he wanted to come in and talk."
Within an hour, the man arrived at the grilled cheese parlor, where he apologized and offered to pay for the damages. When Mullins heard his apology and learned he was only 19, he decided to not pursue criminal charges.
Mullins, who declined to identify the man because of his age, said he would have preferred it if the group had come forward earlier, before the story went viral. He also wishes they'd simply worn masks. "We're months into a pandemic and you go out without a mask?" he says. "What were they thinking?"
Still, the story had a happy ending. The damage was fixed and Mullins received a sincere apology. "I don't want to get them in any trouble," he says. "I told him that we all make mistakes.
"And it's Christmas."
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