Minneapolis business owner who cheered rioters burning down restaurant has van stolen, new business robbed

'Let it burn,' Ruhel Islam wrote in a viral post when his first restaurant caught fire during riots

A business owner in Minneapolis, who set up shop across town a year after his first Indian restaurant was burned down last summer during riots after George Floyd's death, says his van full of supplies for his new establishment was stolen.

Ruhel Islam, an immigrant who grew up under a Bangladeshi dictatorship, said someone took the stolen van to his new restaurant, Curry In A Hurry, from in front of his home then used the keys left inside the truck to enter the building Monday, taking $500 from the register, Fox 9 Minneapolis reported. 

His first restaurant, called Gandhi Mahal, was located just blocks away from the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct, which was also burned down by rioters last summer. The restaurant caught fire during the demonstrations. Islam and his daughter, Hafsa Islam, went viral on Facebook, writing in a post at the time, "Let my building burn. Justice needs to be served."

The building that once housed Gandhi Mahal on East Lake Street has since been demolished and a community garden has been erected in its place. Islam later opened Curry In A Hurry less than two miles away, which is open for takeout, delivery, catering and outdoor seating over the summer.


Islam said his catering truck was filled with newly purchased catering supplies, kitchen gear, and private business account paperwork when it was stolen from outside his home in the Morris Park/Nokomis area Saturday afternoon. 

Curry In A Hurry said in a post to its Facebook page that the stolen van was last spotted by a good Samaritan driving at Lake Street and 38th Avenue around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday. The van’s log was painted over with black squares. No suspects have been apprehended. 

Islam said he would not press charges if his van was returned. 

"If you need food, I’ll give you food all your life - you’ll have it. Need a job to rent a house, I’ll give you a job," Islam said. "Come work with us and solve the problem. This is what we have to do."

This promise comes over a year after his daughter, Hafsa Islam, also wrote an op-ed published in the Washington Post on May 30, 2020. 

Protesters in Minneapolis, Minn., took over and burned the police department’s 3rd Precinct building on May 28, 2020 as the city’s unrest continued for a fourth day following the death of George Floyd.  (Nick Espinosa via Storyful)


"It becomes clearer to me than ever that the issue at hand is greater than Gandhi Mahal. We can rebuild a building, but we will never reclaim the life George Floyd didn’t get to live," she wrote at the time, not long after her family's business was burned beyond repair. "For years, protesters tried peace. It didn’t work. If this is what it takes to get justice, then it will have been worth it."