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The restaurant community in Philadelphia has gathered together before to discuss the impact and necessity of immigrant workers, especially undocumented workers, in the restaurant industry.
The numbers don’t lie: As the new Map the Impact initiative that the city recently joined shows, immigrant workers in Philly make up around 17.3 percent of the tourism, hospitality and recreation industry, second only to construction among the top five industries that contain the largest share of immigrant workers.
What are restaurants doing in response to the recent uptick in threats to immigrant workers by the new presidency?
In partnership with Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United and Presente.org, restaurants across the country, including food trucks and smaller food service operations, are joining the Sanctuary Restaurants movement where the tagline is, “A Place at the Table for Everyone.” Restaurants that join this initiative are letting people know — with a “Sanctuary Restaurants” sign or decal out front — that they are committed to hosting a safe place for everyone, including immigrants, refugees, people of all genders, faiths, races and so on.
The restaurants that have officially joined the movement (which is not a legal designation) are:
- Rad Dish Co-op Cafe
- Mugshots Coffeehouse
- W/N W/N Coffee Bar
- Girard Bruncherie
- Waffles & Wedges
- South Philly Barbacoa
- Royal Tavern
- Le Virtù
- El Compadre
Sheila Maddali, legal coordinator at ROC United and representative at ROC Philadelphia, is also the coordinator for the Sanctuary Restaurant movement nationally — and with her based in Philly, it means much of the work behind the initiative was started in the area, she wrote in an email.
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Maddali added that ROC Philadelphia has connected with these local restaurants, in addition to immigrant justice organizations, to get them started on webinars and trainings. And while most of the listed restaurants reached out first to get involved, ROC has also started reaching out to restaurateurs that might be interested in joining the initiative.
“The voice of the industry is powerful,” Maddali said. “It is our hope that by raising its voice in support of inclusion, safety and justice, the industry can amplify the work being done by our incredible local immigrant justice allies and that by using a broader definition of sanctuary we can help build bridges between restaurant workers and communities that are being similarly targeted.”