The United States is an immigrant nation, whether it’s distant ancestors or our current day status, many of us have immigrant roots. Yet, too often today we’re focused on divisions rather than our commonalities. In this time of divisiveness, the hospitality community has the unique opportunity to show leadership in what it means to welcome all to have a seat at the table. Hospitality is defined as providing a friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. Each day most restaurants open their doors doing just that — welcoming all regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, etc.
The US restaurant industry, an employer of 12 million people, relies heavily on its immigrant workforce (of owners, chefs, cooks, baristas, managers, dishwashers, and servers), an estimated 11 percent is undocumented — though that number varies by region and is considerably higher in some major cities, with the percentage above 30. And it’s not just the workers who are immigrants, many restaurant owners are immigrants who are able to support their family and others, often by sharing their cultural heritage via food. As the threat of enforcement action increases, the restaurant industry is trying to navigate the impact.
On Monday, May 1, across the country and the world, many will march for International Workers Rights Day and #ADayWithoutImmigrants. A call to action encouraging walk-outs and business closures. Here at the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, we encouraged our member restaurants to openly discuss the planned day of action with their teams and decide individually how they wanted to respond or engage.
Like many of our member restaurant/restaurant groups, our offices will be closed in solidarity to support our friends, colleagues, families. One great example of industry leadership is exemplified by Adriano Paganini, successful local restaurateur and founder of Back of the House Group, that boasts some of the City’s best known and most beloved restaurants. He made the decision to close all locations on this Monday in solidarity with his employees (approximately 1,000). He issued this personal letter to staff:
As you may have heard by now, we’ve made the decision to close of our restaurants this coming Monday, May 1, in recognition of A Day Without Immigrants. I felt it very important that I, personally, communicate this to you.
We reached out to many of you over the past week to get your thoughts on whether or not we should close. Some of you told us that you wanted to support the cause, while others expressed a desire to work on that day.
That said, an overwhelming number of you said that you wanted to close in order to fully be a part of the movement — to support your friends, family and your larger community. We’ve decided to stand in solidarity with the majority out of respect for your wishes. We will close all 20 of our restaurants Bay Area-wide on Monday, May 1, and will re-open on Tuesday, May 2.
While we’re on the topic of immigration, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on the subject — as someone who is, himself, an immigrant. (Can’t you tell by my accent?) I moved to San Francisco from Italy over 20 years ago. Since starting Back Of The House, I’ve been privileged to work with a number of fellow immigrants, including fellow Italians Eddie Sarti and Ruggero Gadaldi, Luis Flores (originally from Guadalajara) and Alex Morgan (from Costa Rica), to name a few. The subject of immigration remains very personal to me, and It hits close to home for many of us. I feel very proud to be an immigrant who has successfully built a business that provides jobs for many people and places to eat for our neighbors.
Thank you for supporting our decision to support you. We’re moved by your thoughtfulness and your spirit.
The following locations will be closed:
· Delarosa (Both Locations)
· El Techo
· Super Duper (All 10 Locations)
· The Bird
· Uno Dos Tacos
As humanity we are one — we look forward to continuing to represent an industry that provides hospitality and opportunity for all.