Fitzroy’s Oko Cafe and Rooftop was broken into last Saturday (May 4), with intruders destroying the venue’s POS system and and stealing the till, which had $500 inside.

The break-in marks the third time in less than four weeks that the popular venue, run by Sebastian Pasinetti and his mother Lucy Pasinetti, has been attacked. According to Sebastian, Oko was also subjected to theft and damage on Saturday April 13 and Tuesday April 16.

“I just feel like hospo is such a hard slog at the moment,” Sebastian tells Broadsheet. “And I feel like we serve the community, it almost feels like the wider community’s working against us at the moment – it feels really demotivating.

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“It feels like every week there’s something coming up against us, whether it’s the council or community, or being robbed – literally a whole till being stolen.

“There’s probably a big conversation around this about the living crisis at the moment; people are trying to survive the best way they can,” says Sebastian, who is also the co-founder of Minds En Place, a local company that brings mental health, disability and anti-racism training to hospitality companies.

The incidents have taken their toll on Oko – which has housed Nigerian restaurant Little Lagos’s indefinite pop-up since March – in terms of both business and staff well-being. “It’s a common uneasy feeling across Little Lagos and Oko at the moment,” says Sebastian. Oko was unable to trade on Sunday May 5 due to the POS being destroyed. The business has spent around $5000 replacing equipment.

The Pastinettis say the best way for the community to support them is to visit the cafe. In the meantime, the pair are remaining positive.

“We still love what we do, and I guess Mum and I are just trying to find joy in all the little things, as opposed to trying to figure out what the hell is going on,” says Sebastian.