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Day Without Immigrants: These Restaurants Are Staying Open—And Donating Profits to Immigrant Rights

They’re putting their money where your mouth is.

At the Day Without Immigrants protest at City Hall today.


All over the country today, immigrants are making their presence felt through their absence: Instead of going to work, sending their kids to school, and generally adding a whopping $743 billion to the nation's economic output, they're sitting the day out to give President Trump a taste of what an America without immigrants would actually look like. In New York, construction sites ground to a halt. Classrooms in Minnesota are empty. Food service in the Senate is operating on reduced hours. And in the Bay Area, more than 50 restaurants have shuttered because of the Day Without Immigrants strike, by InsideScoop’s count.

Plenty more restaurants here are chugging on with business as usual. But a handful have decided to stay open while giving their staff their blessing to stay home. “It seemed a little counterintuitive to cut off their income to make a statement,” says Tacolicious CEO Joe Hargrave. “A lot of people rely on their work. Our message is that we’ll be here for people who aren’t and we’re going to do the job for them while they’re gone.” And they’re throwing money behind that stance: Tacolicious’s five locations will donate 100 percent of today’s profits to the ACLU. “Rather than profiting off the day, we thought it would be good to support their cause,” says Hargrave. “I’m anticipating a massive amount of hate mail, but so it goes.”

A few San Francisco restaurants are following suit. The Big Night Restaurant Group—which includes Marlowe, Park Tavern, the Cavalier, and Leo’s Luxury Oyster Bar—will make a group-wide donation to the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project. Leo’s food service will be limited to oysters only, and Park Tavern might be on a reduced menu tonight, says Marlowe general manager Jessica Eisenberg. But the Cavalier and Marlowe are cooking their full menus: “My entire kitchen showed up this morning,” Eisenberg marvels. Ultimately, the restaurant group left the choice up to their workers, she explains: “We need immigrants—our kitchen doesn't run without them. We wanted to make sure they felt comfortable doing what they needed to do no matter what.”

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen opted to close its 24th Street deli but kept the Fillmore and Contemporary Jewish Museum locations open. Ten percent of today’s sales will go to the ACLU, a gift that Apple will triple. Apple’s participation comes by way of the owner’s wife, who works at Apple, explains Wise Sons business manager Erin Christy. “They have a great matching program,” she says.

In Oakland, Calavera, Chop Bar, and Lungomare are also keeping their doors open. They’ll send a portion of today’s sales—likely between 5 and 10 percent—to the ACLU, says Jana Pastena, the HR manager for all three restaurants. “We may have to reduce our menu, but the bar will be staying open,” she says. 

Luka’s Taproom & Lounge has the same plan, and set out to donate 10 percent of their proceeds to the Immigrant Defense Fund. But as of about 10:30 this morning, no one had yet shown up for lunch service, says manager Sean Libiran: “I’m not 100 percent sure if we’re going to be open for lunch or dinner. I’m currently the only person in this building.”


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