Nuits de Beyrouth owners say they’re being doubly-victimized

Multiple fire-bombings prompt cancellation of insurance and mall lease

A supportive cross-section of Laval’s Lebanese community gathered outside a well-known Lebanese restaurant on Curé Labelle Blvd. in Chomedey earlier this month to show encouragement for the owners who say they are being doubly-victimized after several fire-bombing incidents.

Nuits de Beyrouth, which has been the target of as many as four firebombing attempts in the past eight to nine months, is just one of several restaurants in the Laval and Montreal regions which have been similarly targeted.

Members of Laval’s Lebanese community gathered outside Nuits de Beyrouth on April 8 to show support for the owners who say they are victims of an extortion racket. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

Standing up to criminals

“We’re all united here to take a stand against what’s going on against all of the restaurant business owners in the Laval and Montreal areas,” Kevin Al-Sabek, speaking on behalf of his parents who are co-owners of Nuits de Beyrouth, said in an interview with The Laval News.

“We’ve been victims of vandalism and death threats against our businesses and the families that own them,” he said. “We’re also here to take a stand against all the choices that our landlords and our insurers have made. We have been here for nine years and we have always followed the rules, always paid our taxes.

“We’ve been victims of vandalism and death threats,” says Kevin Al-Sabek, son of Nuits de Beyrouth’s owners, (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

Insurance cancelled

“We paid our insurance company and never made a claim. All the damages that were made we’ve paid out of our own pocket. We never made any insurance claim, but they decided to rescind our policy. The landlord has also put a new lock on the door and is not allowing us in, even though we paid our April monthly rent. We have food and equipment inside, but they’re not allowing us in.”

Police in Laval and Montreal announced in recent weeks that they were working together to solve dozens of cases of violence and intimidation targeting local businesses. Up to March 31, they had arrested 19 people, with possibly more arrests expected.

Victims of extortion

Al-Sabek maintained that Nuits de Beyrouth is the victim of an extortion racket. He said a representative of the perpetrators, whom restaurant management had never met before, walked in one day and demanded money in exchange for protection from unspecified consequences should they not get paid.

“We are not connected to these people by any means,” said Al-Sabek. “They came in, they asked for money. That is the only contact we had with them. They entered, they wanted to sell us protection, we declined the offer. After they came, we reported everything to the authorities.”

‘People come here to be reminded of their culture and their roots’

Can’t I.D. the suspects

Although the owners had a security camera system inside Nuits de Beyrouth, the firebombing suspects managed to conceal their identity by wearing head and face coverings, Al-Sabek added. “We don’t know if this is organized crime,” he said. “Our only hope is that this will stop, because it’s not just us: all of the restaurants in the area are afraid now.”

He noted that since opening nearly a decade ago, Nuits de Beyrouth has become a popular gathering place for many in Laval’s Lebanese community. “People come here to be reminded of their culture and their roots,” said Al-Sabek. “It has become a landmark where they come to relax among friends.”