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New San Francisco restaurant’s planters smashed days before opening, causing $10K in damage

A wet street at dusk with rows of street lamps, toppled planters, and a distant figure with an umbrella.
Garden planters in front of a mediterranean restaurant set to open on Thursday were destroyed early Monday morning. | Source: Courtesy Anu Bhambri

A Mediterranean restaurant set to open later this week on San Francisco's Embarcadero was vandalized early Monday morning, owner Anu Bhambri told The Standard.

Bhambri said around 5 a.m. Monday, vandals destroyed roughly $10,000 worth of garden planters surrounding the Alora restaurant, which is set to open on Thursday.

The planters, Bhambri said, were intended to set a boundary for the restaurant's front patio area—allowing the owners to acquire a liquor license.

Bhambri, who owns several fine dining restaurants across the U.S. and India with her husband, Vikram Bhambri, said the restaurant had installed the planters just last week in preparation for its grand opening.

Bhambri said the couple chose the Embarcadero Pier 3 location partly because they perceived it as a safe part of town. They are unsure whether insurance will cover the damages.

"We were very surprised," Anu Bhambri said. "This is not the kind of attention we wanted."

A wet sidewalk under a green awning with scattered piles of overturned planter soil.
Planters outside Alora restaurant were smashed early Monday morning. | Source: Courtesy Anu Bhambri

Many residents and business owners across San Francisco have installed garden planters to deter homeless encampments, fueling criticism from advocates for homeless people who denounce the planters as "hostile architecture."

But Bhambri said this was not the restaurant's intention and said she was unaware of the controversy surrounding planters.

"If we knew, we wouldn’t have done it," Bhambri said. "We were just setting up the restaurant."

It's unclear why the planters were destroyed. The San Francisco Police Department confirmed the incident is under investigation.

The Port of San Francisco, who manages the Embarcadero, has been contacted for more information but did not immediately respond.

This is a developing story.

David Sjostedt can be reached at