ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — A man broke in and took thousands of dollars from a family-owned restaurant in Englewood.

The owner of Blazing Bird, Artem Muradyan, said this isn’t the first time his restaurant has been targeted and it’s ruffling feathers for those who work there.

This break-in happened in multiple stages in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. The owner said he’s now out of $2,000. Now, it’s back to business as usual, whatever usual looks like during this stage of the pandemic.

“It’s been good and challenging at the same time, I mean people still aren’t coming back, don’t feel comfortable coming back, as it was pre-pandemic,” Muradyan said.

Muradyan said the burglar came twice in a matter of hours on Wednesday, first breaking the lockbox from off the front door sometime around 4 a.m., with the restaurant key inside of that box. The robber then returned with the key a few hours later.

“You can tell he was here just for money, and I can tell he was professional,” Muradyan said.

Restaurants still suffering from pandemic setbacks

This burglary happened as thousands of small businesses in the metro grapple with the two-pronged reality of getting back to normal and becoming the targets for thieves.

Denise Mickelsen is the communication director of the Colorado Restaurant Association and said these crimes have gone up since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

She sent us this statement:

“It has been widely reported in the media that crime has increased in metro Denver since the pandemic began, and we have heard anecdotally from restaurant operators that there’s been an increase in robberies and vandalism. On social media, we’ve seen instances of broken windows and even the burglary of a Boulder-county charitable donation site in the wake of the Marshall fire. It’s upsetting to see any criminal activity aimed at restaurants when they are barely back on their feet again after two years of pandemic-related operational restrictions. Collectively, the local restaurant industry has lost over $3 billion since March 2020; it will take years to recover. Amid skyrocketing food costs and a continued labor shortage, paying for property repairs and remediating criminal acts are the last thing restaurants need right now.”

Colorado Restaurant Association

But this new reality hasn’t curbed Muradyan’s confidence in second chances.

“There are different ways to make money as opposed to robbing and taking things that don’t belong to you. That’s not the right way to do it,” he said. “I would forgive him, I would hire him. I believe in second chances.”

Muradyan told FOX31 he’s also had damage done to two windows since opening six months ago.