Paprika, a Czech and Hungarian comfort food spot that’s been open for seven years, was vandalized last week, just days after a video of its co-owner using a racial slur gained viral attention.
The husband-and-wife team of Gabrielle and Petr Seckar opened Paprika in 2013 with partner Bruno Herren, Mission Local reported at the time, serving a menu of home-style Eastern European food and a curated list of Hungarian, Czech, and German beers. When the pandemic hit, it pivoted to a takeout and delivery model, and — according to its website — eventually placed tables outside its 3324 24th Street location to allow outdoor dining.
It’s that storefront, the SF Business Times reports, that was painted with phrases like “Fuck You Racists” “Keep Hoods Yours” and “Black Lives Matter” last Wednesday, presumably a response to a confrontation Paprika co-owner Gabrielle Seckar had with Yoiel Berih, a worker tasked with cleaning San Francisco’s public restrooms.
Whoever did this to Paprika in SF, thank you we love to see it! pic.twitter.com/Tn2S5Zuk0k— jaz (@jazmintyfresh) July 22, 2020
In a video Berih posted to his Twitter account (which has since, it appears, been removed), Berih confronts Seckar after she called the police to report an apparently homeless man who was allegedly drinking on the sidewalk outside her business. Berih says that when he went to record the police interaction with the man, Seckar approached Berih, and during their escalating discussion, she used the n-word, seemingly toward Berih.
The video, which Berih said was recorded on Saturday, July 18, gained the attention of paint-wielding activists, and the spot was tagged with anti-racist sentiments a few days later. On Wednesday afternoon, following the tagging, Paprika management posted an unsigned apology to Twitter, admitting use of the racist word and saying “it was a huge mistake to let my anger get the better of me.” The incident that sparked the argument — the alleged phone call to police regarding the homeless person — was not acknowledged in the tweet.
The graffiti was reportedly buffed out by Wednesday evening, but the furor continued, with the restaurant’s Yelp and Google reviews bombarded with negative assessments of the business.
Paprika is the latest local business that’s faced a racial justice reckoning in recent weeks, joining SF-based tea shop Boba Guys (racial and sexual misconduct allegations), candy and cafe mini-chain Dandelion Chocolates (systemic racism allegations), and Castro bakery Hot Cookie (alleged use of racial slur and sexual assault). Paprika is one of the first establishments to make a major change at the top, however, as by Friday night, Gabrielle Seckar announced that she had left the business, saying via a written statement sent to ABC 7 that “I have severed all ties with Paprika, and offer my deepest apology to everyone that I have disappointed, including the staff, my family, the Mission District, and the Black Community.”
“As of this letter, dated July 24, 2020,” Seckar writes, “and at the request of my partners, [I] am officially severing any and all ties with the Paprika restaurant...to ensure Paprika and it’s staff of hard working locals and caring patrons not be forced to suffer for my own personal actions, I have agreed to step down.”