Armed gunman robs Torque Coffee

Employee unharmed after being forced into refrigeration unit

Published:

Updated: March 31, 2013, 11:07 PM

 
photoRyan Palmer, co-owner of Torque Coffee, discusses an armed robbery at the downtown Vancouver business on Sunday morning.

(/The Columbian)

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photoRyan Palmer, co-owner of Torque Coffee, discusses an armed robbery at the downtown Vancouver business on Sunday morning.

(/The Columbian)

Buy this photo

An armed man robbed and terrorized a barista about 8 a.m. Sunday at Torque Coffee in downtown Vancouver.

Describing the scene, co-owner Ryan Palmer, 34, said, “A customer had just left, the robbery happened — mask, gun, give me the money. He took the till and her bag. She was pretty scared.”

The robber ordered the woman into a refrigeration unit, where she called 911. She was unharmed.

The business at 507 Columbia St. will celebrate its first anniversary April 13.

The suspect was described as a white man, about 6 feet 1 inch, with an average build and wearing a black hooded jacket, blue jeans and a mask.

Police stopped two men matching that description later but the barista said neither was the robber.

Anyone with information is asked to call the police hotline at 360-487-7399.

Palmer owns the shop with his parents, Paul and Marsha Palmer of Vancouver. He has five employees.

He said he has had little trouble before Sunday’s robbery.

“This is one of the nicest parts of Vancouver,” said Palmer, who lives just a block or so away in a condo. “I’m across from a convention center.”

“We have a lot of people who come through here every day,” Palmer said. “And it is shocking to me that this would happen. … It was a crime of opportunity.”

He said he was concerned about his barista and would ensure she is OK to return to work. “Our No. 1 priority is our employees,” he added.

He said he will work with Vancouver police on ways to keep his business safe.

But he noted: “Does tens of thousands of dollars in surveillance cameras make any sense?”

“We were lucky our employee was smart enough to comply,” Palmer said. He has been in the coffee business for 16 years.

The business, with its huge, overhead front door, is also the home base for The Mighty Bowl food truck. Torque Coffee offers pie, cake, pastries, light fare and all types of coffee drinks.

Vancouver police Sgt. Mike Davis said no arrest had been made as of Sunday night.