Community lends a helping hand to Elgin Street baker after robbery

The shelves and trays are nearly empty at Brown Loaf Bakery on Elgin Street.

A steady flow of customers patiently waited to order and offer their sympathy to bakery owner Shanchao Yan, whose right arm is now in a cast after being robbed this week.

“(They) came here twice,” said Yan. “And got money….cash.”

According to Yan, the bakery was robbed last Saturday and again Wednesday. He was alone both times.

It was during the second robbery when he injured his hand, trying to stop the thief. 

“Living down the street, it’s definitely strange to hear about that happening on Elgin especially at 4 in the afternoon,” said Mitchell Sinclair.

He visits Yan on a regular basis, picking up a croissant en route to work. After seeing Yan’s hand in a cast, he volunteered his time to help in the kitchen on Saturday.

“I don’t know if you could call it helping but I’m attempting to help getting bread in and out of the oven, stacking it and getting it ready for customers,” said Sinclair.  “I’ve never seen bigger lines. There’s not a lot left here, it’s pretty much coming out of the oven and right out the door.”

Sinclair wasn’t the only one eager to show support after hearing what had happened to the local baker.

“I was so devastated to hear what happened,” said Anna Kozlova, who picked up a loaf of sourdough bread.

“I usually come in here for bread anyway but today I really felt I should come in to support them.”

“This is the first time I’ve been here,” said Gern Alexander. “I’m stunned he’s selling out of a lot of stuff.”

Since the robbery, security cameras have been installed. Yan says police have checked in with him throughout the week.

Even though he will be in a cast for at least four weeks, the baker continues to stay positive, feeling grateful and overwhelmed by the support his community has shown in these recent days.

“I’m very appreciative.. lots of customers,” he said. “I’m very, very appreciate and you can see more young people came here being supportive.”