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Early morning robbery by gunman at Yarralumla cafe

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Tom McIlroy and Stephanie Anderson

Police at the scene of an armed robbery at Yarralumla shops cafe Beess and Co. Click for more photos

Yarralumla cafe Beess & Co robbed by armed man

Police investigate an armed robbery at Beess & Co on August 15. Photo: Karleen Minney

Canapes and macaroons are the order of the day at popular Yarralumla cafe Beess & Co. despite an early-morning robbery by a gunman on Thursday.

Three staff members were tied up during the incident which saw police called to the Bentham Street venue about 6.45am.

It is not known if the attack – which netted just $80 – was targeted, prompting safety concerns from nearby businesses and workers.

Beess and Co... taped off by police.

Beess and Co... taped off by police. Photo: Karleen Minney

Sergeant Steve Ladd from ACT Policing Criminal Investigations confirmed no shots were fired during the robbery.

‘‘The male was wearing a balaclava and brandishing some sort of firearm,’’ he said.

‘‘He has proceeded to tie up the staff inside the premises and steal an amount of cash.’’

Pierre Johannessen of Beess & Co. Cafe.

Pierre Johannessen of Beess & Co. Cafe. Photo: Jay Cronan

Sergeant Ladd said the offender was in the cafe for ‘‘only a number of minutes’’ before he fled, and was last seen running towards Novar Street from a rear alleyway.

The robbery came on the day that longtime owner Andrea Beess und Chrostin signed contracts to hand the business to new owners.

The sale had been in negotiations for about a month.

Spokesman Pierre Johannessen confirmed Beess & Co. would reopen on Friday, in time for a farewell surprise function for the longtime proprietor and neighbourhood fixture.

‘‘Measures have already been taken to ensure the ongoing security of staff and customers,’’ he said.

‘‘Beess & Co. is one of those old-school, charming cafes, which is why it is so popular. About 80 per cent of the customer base are regulars who come for the people and the food. The sale won’t change that one bit.’’

He said canapes, macaroons, tea and coffee would be served at the farewell function from 2.30pm on Friday, and customers, well-wishers and supporters were invited.

‘‘From what I understand, as soon as the cafe was opened up a man walked in with a gun. He tied up the staff and brushed past a fax machine which fell down and broke.

‘‘It only lasted a few minutes. I believe one of the chefs was splashed with some kind of bleach or chemical he had in his hands at thetime,’’ Mr Johannessen said.

Police scoured other businesses inthe area for surveillance footage on Thursday, with the offender described as Caucasian with an Australian accent and aged in his 30s.

The man is believed to be about 183 centimetres in height and was wearing dark clothing, light-coloured sneakers and a balaclava.

The cafe was cordoned off until early afternoon, while a nearby phone booth was confirmed to be part of the  investigation.

Nearby business owner Richie Croak said stores in the area had dealt with a spate of break-ins and vandalism in the past.

‘‘It got to the point where every time we had a new window put in they’d break it,’’ he said.

‘‘There is quite a bit of crime in the area.’’

He said he would be holding a meeting with his staff about safety in the wake of this robbery.

Police are appealing for anyone who was in the area at the time and saw a man matching the description to contact police on 13 14 44.

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