A beloved local coffee shop and barbecue spot in Sylmar was ransacked and trashed over the weekend, leaving the owners devastated.  

Buffalo Bruce’s Mercantile, located at 13661 Hubbard Street, has been in business for 26 years, according to one of the owners, Vivian Hartman, who said when she and her husband arrived at work on Monday, they noticed the doors were broken.  

“When we entered, we saw our place and it was destroyed,” Hartman told KTLA. “It smelled, there was drug [paraphernalia] everywhere.”  

The store’s owner added that the thieves not only took items of value like their computers and the restaurant’s knives and other equipment, but they also used a bat to further damage the shop.  

Surveillance cameras set up in the coffee shop and restaurant were dismantled and taken, she said, and the shop’s internet connection was cut by the thieves.  

Even more upsetting, Hartman said that after police came and looked at everything, the thieves broke back into the business that evening, stealing and damaging even more of the shop’s property.  

Beloved coffee shop and restaurant ransacked and trashed by thieves
The owners of the beloved coffee shop and barbecue spot discovered they’d been broken into on Nov. 6, 2023. (KTLA)

Hartman and her husband, Bruce, were crucial in getting “Sophia’s Act,” AB 847, which ensures terminally ill children continued health coverage no matter a family’s income, passed into law in October of this year. The bill was passed some 18 years after Hartman’s daughter, Sophia, died of leukemia.  

She believes, based on the amount of damage done, that a group of people may have spent much of Saturday and all of Sunday inside the coffee shop and barbecue restaurant, noting sleeping rolls, clothes, personal hygiene items and the amount of drug paraphernalia that was left behind.

“They took anything that was personal, and they just destroyed it,” Hartman said.  

A GoFundMe has been organized to help the Hartmans recover from the damage done to their business.