When a bathroom mirror went missing from Lovely Day on December 5, the owner of the beloved downtown Thai food diner, Kazusa Jibiki, was heartbroken. “It’s a really sad day for us,” she posted on Instagram. The staff was angry. The regulars were incensed. Clearly, this wasn’t just any old piece of glass. “Two friends of mine were like guardians, they really wanted it back to Lovely Day so they were on the case,” explained Jibiki, who moved to New York City from Japan more than 20 years ago.
The mirror may have been a cheap find — Jibiki guessed she bought it for less than $25 at a flea market — but as the owner explained to B+B, it’s the artistic vandalism etched into the mirror that makes that old reflector so special. And maybe she’d just grown fond of it over time. For the past 14 years it had hung at Lovely Day, accumulating marks from favorite regulars.
The bathroom itself, decorated like a cozy cabin with stenciled walls, is a kind of repository of memories for Lovely Day’s community. Jibiki’s best friend, who passed away last year, renovated it in 2008. “It’s sentimental because people we know are on it, a bunch of old timers, new regulars, people who aren’t living in New York anymore or who passed away,” said Jibiki.
But the bathroom artwork also included some more well-known signatures. There were tags fromdowntown street artists like Rambo– the artist behind those iconic, paint bucket-spill pieces all over North Brooklyn. And then there are the irreplaceable scratchings of at least two artists who have recently passed away including photographer and artist Dash Snow, and the street artist out of Houston known as Nekst, which had begun to generate some serious art-envy in graffiti circles
“I didn’t think it was that desirable, but some people really, really wanted it, which I wasn’t aware of at all,” Jibiki said. “I mean, I like it because it’s been there for a long time, it’s part of Lovely Day.”
But as soon as it was stolen, it became clear that the mirror was an object of great desire. Trying to pin down the crook, the staff seemed to remember different people asking after the mirror. Eventually Jibiki’s graffiti artist friends took on the task, combing through the security cameras. Within a few days, a guy turned up at Jibiki’s doorstep to return the mirror. “I said, ‘No questions asked,'” she said, demonstrating remarkable understanding. “It’s probably innocent, maybe they were drunk.”
But for now, the bathroom remains mirror-less. After the heist, Jibiki realized how much she valued the mirror, and that it might be a good idea to keep a closer eye on it. “Now I think even more people found out that it could be more valuable as an art piece,” she said. “It’s a part of Lovely Day’s history, I don’t want to lose it again so it’s still at my house and I have to think of the way it’s one hundred percent secured or maybe we have to put it somewhere else, not in the bathroom.”