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Smashed doors and smeared croissants: Bakery staff brawl with homeless troublemaker 

A cozy cafe interior with customers, pendant lights, an exposed brick wall, and a busy counter area.
Le Marais Bakery in the Castro has had issues with crime before. | Source: Felix Uribe Jr for The Standard

A brawl erupted Thursday morning at Le Marais Bakery in the Castro after a homeless man who’d been causing trouble there since Monday turned violent and began throwing pastries and furniture around.

Two employees told The Standard the man arrived at 8:20 a.m. and began aggressively swearing and grabbing pastries before leaving and starting to toss outdoor chairs and tables around. Staff declined to give their names as they are not allowed to speak to the press.

A small piece of pastry sticks to a cafe's glass window in bright sunshine
A smeared piece of croissant sticks to the glass window outside Le Marais Bakery on Sanchez Street after an altercation Thursday injured a worker. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Staff locked the side door and waited for the man to leave while he took a pastry he had grabbed and smeared it across the windows. Eventually, an employee left the cafe to ask him to leave. The man swung at the staffer, and a fight broke out. Another employee grabbed a chair and ran to her co-workers’ aid as customers also jumped in. 

“I’ve been here two years, and you get this in these places in the South of Market and other parts of the city, but not the Castro,” said the injured employee, who suffered a cut to the heel of his hand and a bruise to his right arm.

Customer Joel Harmon told The Standard he had popped in for his usual croissant and oat milk latte when the fracas broke out. Harmon said he asked the man to stop and move on before threatening to call the police.

A sidewalk with a man walking past a crêperie sign, outdoor seating under red umbrellas in the background.
A person walks past the Le Marais Bakery in in San Francisco on Oct. 6, 2022. | Source: Felix Uribe Jr for The Standard

The man told him to go ahead, Harmon said, and he did, asking a dispatcher to send a mental health crisis team in addition to police.

Soon after, the man got up and wandered east along 18th Street toward Dolores Park. Police arrived about 10 minutes later, and an employee showed officers a video of the man. The Standard has been unable to obtain the video so far.

Harmon was surprised when they recognized the man. 

“They looked at him and said, ‘Oh, yeah, we arrest him all the time.’ They knew him intimately,” Harmon said.

Le Marais Bakery’s owner, Patrick Ascaso, and the San Francisco Police Department have been contacted for comment but did not immediately respond. Police were called at 8:31 a.m. to the intersection of the cafe for a battery assault, public records show. 

The cafe has endured crime before. A 2022 break-in cost the business $8,000, which resulted in a monthslong dispute with the city to try and recoup losses for a shattered door. 

“We don’t feel safe in San Francisco,” manager Stéphanie Faurax said at the time of the prior incidents. “I wish the police would do something.”

Harmon lives in the area and says he’s familiar with housed and unhoused neighbors, said he had not seen the man before but expressed worry after learning he had returned twice this week.

“I looked in this guy’s eyes, and I could tell that there was some violence here. It wasn’t just an unfortunate situation that he couldn’t get his croissant or he was mad at somebody,”’ Harmon said. “In this instance, there was something else with this guy that makes me think he’s gonna do this again soon.”

Cafe staff said the man had visited Monday and Wednesday and caused a scene when he stole pastries, although staff said didn’t report it to the police.

On Thursday afternoon, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes the bakery, called the situation “frustrating, unfortunate and happening way too often in too many neighborhoods.”

Mandelman acknowledged that merchants along more prominent corridors like Market and Castro streets have continued to face significant challenges with behaviors around mental health crisis, drug use and homelessness.

“I think honestly there’s been some progress. People have gotten some help, but there are still far too few people with addictions and challenges not getting the help they need,” he added.

“That’s the biggest challenge the city faces. We keep informal lists of people who are repeatedly challenging, and do what we can to advocate within relevant city departments to get them into care or, if necessary, into custody. Too many of those folks have done serious harm.”

Correction: This story was updated with the proper spelling of Le Marais manager Stéphanie Faurax’s name.

George Kelly can be reached at