SAN FRANCISCO – A popular ice cream chain is reopening its flagship store on Valencia street in San Francisco nearly a month after it was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.
It’s been a labor of love for Robyn Fisher to reopen the doors to her beloved ice cream shop.
“I’m feeling grateful,” Fisher told CBS News Bay Area. “I think opening during Thanksgiving week is just symbolic of our thanks to the community for their support and their love.”
Despite years of conveying a message of love through her Smitten ice cream, Fisher – who is Jewish – became a victim of what is being investigated as a hate crime.
On October 25th, she awoke to her store vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti on the windows of the Mission District storefront.
“When I saw the photos and saw the texts that came with them, I just started shaking,” Fisher explained. “It was pretty traumatic at first, and I needed a little time to just feel my feelings and collect myself, and just sort of gather my thoughts.”
She said her concern quickly turned into action.
“I knew I needed to respond in a way that was consistent with why I started submitting in the first place for a company that’s named ‘in love,'” said Fisher. “I really felt compelled to answer divisiveness and an act of intimidation with a counteracting amount of, of love and togetherness.”
Before opening her store in 2017, she spent years selling her ice cream from a wagon along the streets of the Mission. Today, she attributes that same community to helping raise over $100,000 through a Go Fund Me page to not only rebuild, add security and continue to pay her employees, but to give back to those who have supported her.
“We have added security measures and really bright lights and some cheeriness to the outside so they will be spotless if they do,” said Fisher. “I think that we hopefully have more of our love force field up so that you know, hopefully won’t happen again.”
Community members attended the re-opening, including State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco who condemned recent anti-Semitic attacks on the city amid the Israel-Hamas war.
“Here in San Francisco, however people feel about what’s happening in Israel and Gaza, we need to be clear that hate has no place here,” Wiener told CBS News Bay Area. “Whether it’s antisemitism or homophobia, or any other form of bigotry, we’re not going to tolerate that here.”
But as the ribbon was cut and neighbors poured in, Fisher’s message of love shined bright – and sweet – with a new flavor.
“The flavor is called ‘I choose love’, and our culinary director designed it to be pink,” she explained. “So it is a mixed berry flavor with strawberry sauce, and rainbow sprinkles that are heart shaped. It’s a little bit cheeseball, but it puts that love out into the world through our product which is, obviously, our ice cream.”
A portion of the proceeds from her ice cream and merchandise sales, Fisher says, will go to the Courage Museum, which aims to prevent violence through education.
According to the SFPD, the vandalism remains under investigation and is being examined as a hate crime.