At many restaurants, the kitchen staff is comprised largely of immigrants, many of whom will be striking on February 16 to protest President Trump’s immigration policies. Many big-name chefs and restaurateurs have pledged to support the workers—or at least not punish them if they’re not at work. And so, left with a skeleton staff, they’ll either be closing their restaurants for the day or offering a limited menu and services.
More and more chefs in an ever-increasing number of cities are pledging their support for the strike. So far, we’ve heard of restaurant closings in Washington DC, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Austin, and New York City, and the list keeps growing. José Andrés, a star chef with more than a dozen restaurants across the US, will close at least five of them in DC and Maryland. He was the first well-known chef to make it publicly known he would do so. Tom Colicchio announced on Twitter that he’d be supporting workers who are out but would be keeping his restaurants open: “I will fully support those that decide to protest, however I will open in support of those who need the day’s pay,” he explained. The big-name restaurateur Stephen Starr, who’s behind hot spots in Philadelphia and NYC, says he won’t punish any striking staffers. All seven Blue Ribbon restaurants in NYC will close for the day.
It’s no surprise that many of the more politically vocal chefs are supporting the movement, and it’s stirring to see how many others are joining them. And if this news has crushed your dinner plans, know it’s for a good cause.