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Windows Smashed, Chef "Roughed Up" at Brand-New Oakland Wine Bar

Friday's protests turned ugly at Downtown Wine Merchants.

Downtown Wine Merchants

After opening last week, Downtown Wine Merchants' owner, Susanne Breentold Inside Scoop that her brand-new wine bar had been largely left alone in the first round of protests against police brutality in Ferguson. "I think it's a little harder to break someone's window when they're looking you right in the eye," Breen said on Thursday, noting that a few protesters had even dropped in during the action for a glass of wine or cup of coffee. Sadly, her luck didn't hold this weekend, as Downtown Wine Merchants had its windows smashed and an employee "roughed up" by protesters continuing to demonstrate against the verdicts in the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

According to the Chronicle, executive chef Edwin Cabrillo was beaten up and sustained a nasty cut on his hand after trying to stop protesters from smashing in the store's windows. "I was just trying to protect my business and they tried to beat the shit out of me," he told the paper. "We put all our money, all our lives into these businesses. I understand what you are protesting—what happened to those people was wrong—but what's happening to us, that's fucked up...And you wonder why Oakland doesn't prosper." His efforts were in vain: two of the shop's windows were indeed smashed in.

For those unacquainted with Downtown Wine Merchants, it's the first project for Breen, a German native with a long history of work in the Bay Area food and wine industries, and Cabrillo, who she first met working at Black Cat in North Beach. Breen spent seven months transforming the historic space, located in the flatiron Lionel J. Wilson building across from City Hall, and is serving 25 wines by the glass, including eight on tap. The focus is on small-production wines from the U.S. and Europe, and a menu of global small plates from Cabrillo. With plywood now mounted on Downtown Wine Merchants' windows, those looking to support the fledgling business should definitely consider stopping by; they're open from 11:30 am straight through to 9:30 pm on weekdays.

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