By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A brazen robbery shakes up a popular restaurant and market in St. Paul’s west side.

Two masked robbers targeted El Burrito Mercado while customers were inside shopping and eating Friday night.

They got away just before police arrived.

Family owned El Burrito Mercado has been in business since 1979. It’s a popular spot for locals to grab a bite to eat and to grab some groceries, but it’s an unlikely place for the brazen robbery that happened there Friday night.

“Both were masked and both had handguns. One went to a register area and started demanding money from a cashier and the other one went around the restaurant gathering people putting them on the ground taking their cell phones and their wallets or purses from them,” Sgt. Mike Ernster said.

This happened right before closing time, just after 8:30 p.m. Friday night.

This was an unusually brave holdup in the middle of a driving snow storm.

“This is a very rare type situation, we do not see a lot of take over type robbery situations of this fashion,” Ernster said.

“If it happened during the day wow,” customer Steve Matson said. “The criminals they must be getting brave.”

“I was shocked actually especially during business hours,” says Ruth Mcnally, another customer.

On Facebook, the store owners say they are heartbroken and that the robbery was traumatizing for both customers and staff.

But the aisles and tables were sprinkled with customers Sunday supporting the business in the face of a violent crime.

“I feel safe here,” customer Mohammad Bashir said. “It’s not a big deal it’s a local business so why don’t we support them, ya know.”

“I want this place to succeed, remade and we’ll just keep coming more,” Mcnally said.

No arrests have been made but Police say the business had surveillance cameras rolling and plan to use that footage to help identify the robbers.

If you have any information, call St. Paul Police at 651-266 5650.

Erin Hassanzadeh