After vandals victimized a well-known coffee shop and restaurant in Sylmar, community residents responded to pleas for help.
More than $2,000 was raised on Sunday, July 19, to help Buffalo Bruce’s Mercantile after vandals maliciously defaced the business with obscene images and messages.
“People have donated $2,280,” said Vivian Hartman, owner of the restaurant Buffalo Bruce’s Mercantile. “We’ve already used that money and we’re very thankful to everybody.”
At least 75 people lined up outside the restaurant on Sunday, ordering food and drink on the inside, or volunteering to paint walls and repair furniture that had seen better days. Many responded to a personal plea for help from film actor Danny Trejo on Facebook. Trejo was there on Sunday, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
“I just want to thank everybody who’s here,” said Trejo, after arriving and giving Hartman a big hug. “God bless all of you. I mean that.
“This is a good lady. And this is our community. This is what we do. We support our community every time. The vandals who did this are not part of this community,” he said before heading inside to have what he proclaimed was “the best coffee and barbecue in the world.”
Just a week before, Hartman had arrived to find offensive drawings and graffiti all over the restaurant entrance and walls of the business. There was a penis painted on the door, and homophobic and crude messages on the building.
“Every sign was painted with something negative,” said Hartman who’s well known in the community for helping and advocating for mothers with sick children, and those in need.
“I felt violated as a woman and as a [member of the] community,” Hartman said.
She expressed that anger and frustration on social media and it spread quickly. The message reached Trejo, famous for the film “Machete” and other tough guy roles, and who is known for lending a hand in the community.
People came from all over Southern California to lend a hand. There were not enough paint brushes for everybody who offered to help.
Hartman, and her husband Bruce, reveled in the response.
“Look at what’s happened. It’s such love,” Hartman said as she went around thanking and hugging people waiting in line. “It’s amazing.”
“I’m overwhelmed. It’s beautiful. I’m a little surprised,” said Bruce, who admitted he was close to crying. “I just want to thank everybody for their support and sacrifice.”
Among those offering support was Vincent “Iron Panda” Martinez of the San Fernando Roller Derby League, who brought several skaters to paint.
“Our league is centered here in Sylmar and many of us come out here after practice for dinner. We heard about what happened and it was heartbreaking. We wanted to make a difference,” Martinez said.
“People are bozos. Maybe they just did it randomly, but we just have to clean after the fact,” he continued.
Carlos Curiel brought his daughter, Carlie. Despite a broken arm, Curiel spent the morning as a paint volunteer.
“We saw it on Facebook and decided to lend a hand. We’re community people and we felt we needed to help,” said Curiel, who traveled here from Brea in Orange County.
For Leesa G., volunteering here was a way to repay the help she received when something similar happened to a video store she owned in Burbank.
“Vivian has such a big heart, and once you meet her you would do anything for her,” she said.
Those who didn’t or couldn’t paint bought barbecue sandwiches and coffee at the shop.
Norma Wilder, who said she couldn’t paint because of an injury, donated $50 while she waited for Trejo, one of her favorite actors.
She and others who waited for the actor — who showed up several hours after he announced his appearance time — were rewarded for their patience.
“This was great,” said Sandy Rivera, who took her kids Carlos, Elizabeth and Richard to meet Trejo.
“I’ve seen basically all his movies,” Richard said. “I didn’t mind waiting.”
“They wanted to meet him really bad,” added Rivera. “He’s a good actor and he supports the community. It shows he’s a good human being.”