Coffee sales were brisk Wednesday at a Spokane Valley espresso stand where the two young owners were targeted with a racial slur and attempted arson.
“People have been coming by just making sure we are OK,” said Diana Na, co-owner of the Coffee Break espresso stand with her sister, Jenn Na. “People telling us we are doing a good job; we are supported. Even people who we’ve never seen before have been coming by,” she said. “We have a lot of great customers, and we’ve had a lot of great feedback. That’s what’s motivating us.”
The arson attempt is being investigated by the Spokane Valley Fire Department, said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Craig Chamberlin. Investigators have not determined whether to pursue the incident as a hate crime.
Jenn Na made the unpleasant discovery at Coffee Break early Tuesday when she arrived to open the stand before dawn.
First, she noticed the smell of gasoline; later, a burnt piece of crumpled paper and a charred outside wall. Jenn Na saw “Go back to China” spray-painted in the parking lot after sunrise.
The sisters are of Korean descent, Diana Na said.
Investigators determined someone had poured gasoline around the building and tried to set it on fire, said Bill Clifford, assistant fire marshal at the Spokane Valley Fire Department. Someone also attempted to use a spray paint can as a blow torch to set the fire.
The sisters, who also attend Eastern Washington University, have no idea who would target their business.
Diana Na said there are no suspects. The women continue to look through the business’s surveillance tapes, but haven’t seen anything so far.
This isn’t the sisters’ first experience with racism. Their parents, also local business owners, were targeted several years ago when someone spray painted “go home” on their dad’s truck.
“What happened wasn’t surprising,” Diana Na said. “We know there’s racism out there, but it’s still shocking.”