A mother-of-five trying to launch her restaurant has been left “devastated and speechless” after finding her hard work had been destroyed.
Muna Al Maflehi, 48, had been working for the past three weeks to renovate her new eatery called Yemen Heaven but was horrified when she walked in on Tuesday to find the place wrecked.
Her son, Moe Yafai, 22, had been helping her with the renovation every day and told Yorkshire Live that she “broke down in tears” after discovering the wreckage, adding: “I’ve never seen my mum cry like that”.
A 38-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of burglary and has been released on bail.
Police have been informed and a GoFundMe page has been set up to try and raise funds for the family.
So far more than £7,000 has been raised – far surpassing the £5,000 target.
Ms Al Maflehi moved to York with her five children in 2017 and set up her restaurant, Yemen Heaven, two years later.
It closed during the pandemic but refusing to be knocked down, she began renovating a former pub to become her new business.
The family were “pretty much done” and ready to open to the public in the next two weeks but the damage done to the building has now set them back “further than where we started”.
Moe, who helped with the renovation and was going to work at the restaurant, said: “We were very shocked and angry and frustrated. Devastated.
“It was a collective goal that we have been trying so hard to achieve and just before we were ready to open something like this happens. It’s the feeling of ‘why now and why us?’
“We moved three years ago to York and mum’s dream was to feed the people because she loves cooking. She wanted to open it to be independent and to help her children.
“My mother is heartbroken and defeated and it hurts so much to see her like this. It’s a traumatic experience.”
Moe explained that the family had left the building at 9.45pm on Monday evening and returned in the morning to find what had happened.
Ms Al Maflehi’s daughter Zayned Yafai said “It’s disgusting, it’s pathetic, it’s stupid and it’s heartbreaking and devastating. If anyone was there when the event happened, please, please please get in touch.”
A statement from North Yorkshire Police said: “Police investigating an incident at the former Spread Eagle Inn at Walmgate, York, have arrested a 38-year-old local man on suspicion of burglary.
“It occurred overnight between Monday and Tuesday (13-14 Dec 2021) and was reported to the police at 8.46 am on Tuesday.
“The suspect was arrested on Tuesday afternoon and taken into custody for questioning.
“He has been released on conditional bail while enquiries continue.”
Witnesses or anyone with information about the incident are urged to call North Yorkshire Police on 101 or make a report online at www.northyorkshire.police.uk.