COEUR d’ALENE — Francisco Ramirez is following a blueprint to the American Dream.
After working in kitchens for seven years, “Pancho,” as he’s known to his friends, branched out last year and opened his own restaurant, El Paisa, at 1801 Lincoln Way.
It’s been a good first year, said Pancho, who does the cooking himself but has hired some help, too.
“I’m working good,” he said Sunday inside the tidy restaurant. “Everybody likes it, no complaints, no nothing.”
Which is why the start-up businessman is confused.
Late Friday or early Saturday, his business was vandalized for the third time in two months.
Nothing was stolen, but a rock was thrown through his front glass door. The front window, too, was riddled with holes. This, on the heels of someone putting glue on the inside of the door’s lock rendering Pancho’s door key useless on two different occasions in May.
“I like so much Idaho, it’s nice, it’s good, (with) nice people,” said Pancho, who’s lived in the area for 20 years. “So why me? It’s confusing.”
It’s also a little scary, he said. The lock pranks cost Pancho around $100 to fix both times, receipts from County Lock and Key and The Lock Doctor show. But this weekend’s assault caused upwards of $1,000 damage, requiring a brand new door.
He said he doesn’t have any disgruntled customers, business or personal rivals, and lives a quiet life free of bars or drugs so he can’t even come up with a possible suspect list himself.
“Oh my god, amigo, I don’t know what it is,” Pancho said.
His business is insured, and he’ll be contacting his agent today regarding the latest hit.
Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Todd Hedge said the report will be turned over to investigations today.
“We got a lead that we’re pursuing,” Hedge said, adding it’s too early to tell whether any of the cases are related.
Though the sting of vandalism makes Pancho nervous, he has no plans to quit or move his business, which he started himself following his dream. He hasn’t noticed damage to any of the neighboring businesses in the strip mall where his restaurant sits during the last three months, so he doesn’t know why he’s being singled out, if that’s the case.
“Just me,” he said. “I don’t know what’s the problem.”