Brooklyn Restaurant Owners Join the Sanctuary Movement

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Image via Facebook

Local restaurant owners have joined forces with the national Sanctuary Restaurants movement in its mission to provide support and resources to restaurants, their workers and their customers. Two aid groups, ROC (Restaurant Opportunities Centers) United and Presente.org (a Latinx social justice organization), formed Sanctuary Restaurants earlier this month in response to the Trump administration’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

According to the organization’s website, “Sanctuary restaurants have a zero tolerance policy for sexism, racism, and xenophobia, and believe that there is a place at the table for all.”

The number of participating restaurants shot up from 24 during the initial launch to 80, and continues to grow with eateries located in cities ranging from Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, to Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Minneapolis, to Los Angeles, Oakland, and Portland.

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According to the organization’s website, Sanctuary Restaurants must:

-not allow any harassment based on immigrant/refugee status, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation to occur in their establishments

-prominently display signs noting, “SANCTUARY RESTAURANTS: A Place At the Table for Everyone”

-offer or obtain informational support from ROC United

-participate in a peer network to exchange ideas and strategies for protecting targeted workers.

Photo of Pablito’s Tacqueria by daniel_a_vasquez – Instagram

Pablito’s Tacqueria in South Slope (723 5th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets) has joined the campaign. BKLYNER spoke to Cecilia Cordova, the daughter of the restaurant’s owners, Older and Eleazar Cordova, over the telephone to learn why she and her parents decided to make their 2-year-old business a Sanctuary Restaurant.

She says that they understand that often “workers, not just restaurant workers, can be discriminated against. We want people to know that we are not like that.” She adds they’d like their neighbors and customers to know that everyone is welcome at their eatery.

Both of Cordova’s parents hail from Mexico and she notes that most of their employees are Hispanic. She says they often hear “mean things” said about Hispanic people and understand what it feels like “being excluded for who we are.”

She hopes when people see the “Sanctuary Restaurant ” sign displayed in Pablito’s Tacqueria they will know that they can “come here regardless [of their background] with their families and enjoy the food and have a nice time.”

Photo of Roman’s via staceymenchelkussell – Instagram

The Fort Greene eatery Roman’s has also joined the Sanctuary movement along with its sibling restaurants, Achilles Heel (Greenpoint), Diner (Williamsburg), and Marlow & Sons (Williamsburg), all owned by Andrew Tarlow.

[Updated at 2:50pm] In a statement, Tarlow says, “We joined the Sanctuary Restaurants initiative because of the collective voice raised by our employees and guests before, during, and after the election, who do not feel that the threats and violence they see in the public sphere represent them, and who also feel targeted or threatened.”

The statement continues, “As a restaurant group, we’re working together to increase our cultural competency and strengthen our self-awareness and bonds, deepening our capacity to serve our guests by understanding how we all experience the world, sometimes in similar and sometimes in very different ways, and working to make the world more hospitable to all. Our view of sustainability has broadened, it’s not just about food sourcing. To be a sustainable business means committing to employment practices that sustain our community.”

Check out this map on sanctuaryrestaurants.org of participating locations across the U.S. and see if you have a Sanctuary Restaurant near you.

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