Update: This video has been removed from Youtube.
If you’re going to try to rob a small business, you’d better not try Tony’s Breakfast.
In a video released on November 13 by the DC police, an unidentified man can be seen grappling with four women across the counter at the H Street eatery. After entering the restaurant, the man waits for one customer to leave before rushing the counter and lunging across it for the cash register drawer.
In the video, one woman grabs for the register as three other women quickly come to her aid. After whacking the man with their fists and a roll of aluminum foil, the man eventually flees the premises.
The woman in the gray T-shirt in the video is Justine Choe, one of the restaurant’s owners. According to Choe, as soon as she realized that the man was reaching for the register, she grabbed for it.
“I just told the other girls to just hurt him and I’ll hold the register,” says Choe.
Choe says that she wasn’t scared at the time, and that it didn’t occur to her that the man could have been armed.
“We didn’t even think he could have a weapon, we just reacted, which was pretty stupid if we think about it,” says Choe.
Choe says she’s close with the other three women in the video—she considers them as family, not employees—and she thinks that’s what inspired them all to jump to assist her so quickly.
“After it happened, we all hugged each other and were like I’m glad you’re okay,” says Choe.
The restaurant employees’ quick actions were successful: the man got away with “maybe 40 bucks” says Choe. And afterwards, Choe and her team got right back to work, cleaning up the blood where their hands had been scraped in the squabble, putting on gloves, and going back to taking orders right outside the restaurant.
As for the reaction from customers, Choe says it’s really been one of surprise, given that Tony’s Breakfast is a small mom-and-pop shop, not a “fancy” restaurant.
“A lot of customers are surprised,” says Choe. “And at the same time they’re just like, you guys kicked ass.“