2007_01_happyhouse.jpgLast weekend, a Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood was shocked when a cashier at the Chinese take out restaurant Happy House was shot in the face while another worker who shot in the hand. Neighbors were devastated, telling ABC 7, "That's wrong, [the restaurant] didn't bother anybody. They tried to help people out. I don't know why people would do that to them."

Today, the NY Times has a closer look Happy House's relationship with the neighborhood. An immigrant family from Hong Kong has run the restaurant for many years, and while there are few Chinese families in the neighborhood, these cheap Chinese take out restaurants are "long a staple of poor and working families."

The Happy House Chinese takeout restaurant in Bedford-Stuyvesant does not feed the rich, or put on airs, and maybe that is why, in the seven years it has fed its busy and occasionally even violent corner of Malcolm X Boulevard, it was never robbed. Maybe the thought simply never occurred to anyone. It would be like holding up one’s own kitchen....

There are video cameras watching the counter all the time. The monitors are wrapped in clear plastic to keep them clean. Most of the other Chinese restaurants nearby also have thick plexiglass shields between the cashier and the customer, like a gas station or a liquor store, but not Happy House. Longtime customers, presumably the very people who would be the most offended by beefed-up security, tell Ms. Wong they need more.

“They need, like, a partition here with a window,” said a matronly woman who gave only her first name, Lorna. “People are stupid. They always kill the ones that help them.”

To [the owners' 19 year old daughter who works at the restaurant Gigi] Wong, she said, “If that was you they shot, I would have cried.”

The cashier who was shot, 34 year old Aisen Lin, is still in critical condition at Bellevue. As for the two suspects, the shooter left his cellphone at the scene. Police took the cellphone, pretended to offer to sell it back to the owner, and ended up arresting Raymond Williams. Williams, a 21 year old who lives near the restaurant on Malcolm X Boulevard and Lexington, admitted to the shooting and is charged with attempted murder, assault, menacing and harassment. The police are still looking for the other man involved.