AUSTIN (KXAN) — “You want me to stand guard?” asks a La Barbecue customer, addressing the owner and general manager, Alison Clem, by name. “I heard about the bad news.”

The beloved east Austin barbecue joint got hit with a break-in, the third in just a few months.

“My morning guy got here at about 6:30… and he came through the back and saw that the gate was opened,” Clem recounted. It was Jan. 27 when she got the call from one of her trusted cooks for her to check the cameras to see if anyone had been there.

“I scrolled back through them and saw that there was a man who had pulled up,” said Clem. Right up against the fence, she said he peered over it and then stepped away.

“Then [he] went back to the gate and like just pretty much destroyed the gate and opened it right up,” she described. “How, I don’t know, since there’s two locks on it, which we are fixing.”

The man got away with two empty keg shells that were holding down a tarp in the back of the La Barbecue property, which is nestled on the corner of East Cesar Chavez and Clara Streets.

This isn’t the first time they’ve dealt with this.

Clem said Thanksgiving weekend, someone broke into their building and tried to steal their safe. That person allegedly took a handmade knife, $400 and iPhones. Their safe was also destroyed.

“We have like 15 cameras, we have an alarm, we’re constantly looking, our neighbors are very good about watching,” explained Clem, “and they still break in and it’s just kind of like ‘what else can we do?’”

The second time happened a couple of weeks ago on a cold night.

“I just want to make everybody aware in the neighborhood that this is going on so they can protect their businesses and their homes and their cars and their property,” she said. “It’s just so much loss.”

“We’re in January right now and January is historically slower for many businesses after the holidays and everything, so for us, to have this extra cash flowing out the door is always tough on everybody,” said Clem.

“I really appreciate everybody that has come out and tried to help and all the messages and emails,” she added. “It’s just been really nice to know that we are very much loved.”

KXAN has reached out to the Austin Police Department with questions about the investigation. We will update this story when we hear back.