St. Paul chef, business owner testifies on local crime at US House of Representatives

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A St. Paul chef testified Tuesday before the U.S. House of Representatives about community violence and its impact on local businesses.

Brian Ingram is the founder and CEO of Purpose Restaurants, which includes two Hope Breakfast Bar locations, The Gnome Craft Pub and a newly opened spot, The Apostle Supper Club.

Brian Ingram testified Tuesday at a Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing titled “When Thoughts and Prayers are Not Enough.”  The committee is hoping to examine how violence and mass shootings can affect a local economy.

Ingram would know. His businesses across the metro have been hit by violent crime over and over in recent years. He says it’s cost him tens of thousands of dollars between spending on security and declining sales.  He also says he’s cut hours because employees no longer feel safe staying open past 10 p.m.

“I am asking you to address the real problem. Criminals fear nothing in our cities,” Ingram testified. “They know responses will be slow. If they are caught, they will be back out in 24 hours. Our hope is that you can figure out how to stop crime before our cities are gone.”

Ingram’s business has experienced a number of burglaries in recent years, and in October 2021, Ingram responded to a deadly shooting at a bar down the street from Hope Breakfast Bar.

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Ingram and his wife say they moved from their former home above Hope Breakfast Bar due to crime in the area.

Brian Ingram’s Hope Breakfast Bar, which has two locations in St. Paul and St. Louis Park. Credit: Purpose Restaurants

Ingram announced the testimony invitation from Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer on social media Saturday after the Friday letter confirmed his participation as a witness.

“We love our community and pray we represent you well,” Ingram wrote on Saturday.

The memorandum for Tuesday says the committee will focus on how violence affects businesses, employment, housing and the financial services industry.

“The impacts of mass shootings on the affected communities linger long after widespread media,
and public attention has faded,” the memorandum says.

“This hearing will examine mass shootings from an angle that is less often understood but nevertheless affects the ability of communities to recover: the economic and financial consequences of mass shootings, including on local businesses, employment, and property values, specifically housing prices.”

Brian Ingram is the founder, CEO and chef for Purpose Restaurants. Credit: Purpose Restaurants