Chinatown bakery locks up after threats

Published: Mar. 27, 2012 at 1:41 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 27, 2012 at 7:42 AM HST
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Dolores Mollring
Dolores Mollring

CHINATOWN (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bakery in Chinatown is still selling its popular cheesecakes, but the owner said the doors are locked even when the shop is open because of threats from drug dealers. Otto Cake opened for business on Smith Street in July 2009. The owner, who simply goes by Otto, said the attacks and threats started six months ago.

"I can't take these lightly," said Otto. "I have to protect myself."

Otto painted the word "HELP" on his shop windows last month. He posted a letter explaining the situation to customers a few days ago after he said he received the latest death threat.

"I think anything I can do, it's going to bring more attention, and maybe bring that back, how they were cleaning up Chinatown," he said.

The bakery is on the first floor of a three story walk-up on Smith Street. Apartments above the business are rented out. According to Otto, a female worker was attacked by a resident outside the shop in September. He said another man assaulted him last month, and customers are also being harassed.

"I'm concerned because now I realize what I've done is bring more people to this area, which is upsetting the drug dealers because they see things and start saying things and they're getting scared they can't sell," explained Otto.

Otto said he calls the police and takes photos when he sees suspicious activity outside. He asked the neighborhood board for help at a meeting earlier this month.

"We were really shocked and a little upset because he's famous for his cheesecake as everybody knows," said member Dolores Mollring. "Not only that, he's in the neighborhood and we want to keep everybody safe."

Mollring heads the Downtown/Chinatown Citizens Patrol. She asked police to increase their presence in the area, especially with all the homeless nearby.

"The drug dealers, they use them to sell their drugs because they're homeless, and if they can earn a little money. Then we have the park, and unfortunately, a lot of dealing also goes on in the park," said Mollring.

Otto's lease isn't up until January. Despite all the threats, he said he doesn't want to move.

"I don't want to stop. I don't want them to win and move, because if I do move, there's a playground right across the street. It's just like am I the only one trying to stop it?" said Otto.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.