‘A day without immigrants’
How neighborhood restaurants — and customers — responded to the one-day strike
Upper West Side sandwich chain Lenwich, on Columbus Avenue between 82nd and 83rd streets, posted a sign on its door announcing limited service for the #ADayWithoutImmigrants protest and boycott, which was started as a response to President Donald Trump's immigration policies. #ADayWithoutImmigrants seeks to highlight the extent of immigrant contributions to the economy. Photo: Razi Syed
Black Iron Burger, citing the chain’s immigrant ownership closed its Seventh Avenue outpost in a “show of solidarity." Photo: Michael Garofalo
“A Day Without Immigrants” Thursday was designed to protest the Trump administration’s policies — and draw attention to the role that immigrants play in the U.S. economy by having workers stay home for the day. In Manhattan, some businesses. mostly restaurants, closed in support of the nationwide strike.
Here are glimpses of the action from city neighborhoods:
On the Upper East Side, business appeared to be going on mostly as usual. A few restaurants, however, had decided to join the protest. Two Lizards Mexican Bar and Grill on First Avenue, just north of 73rd Street, displayed a sign in their window stating, “We’re Closed in support Of #ADayWithoutImmigrants,” accompanied by an ACLU logo. On Second Avenue, the window of Up Thai had a handwritten note reading, “One day without immigrants! We’ll closed on Thursday 16th, 2017 sorry for inconvenience.” A number of pedestrians slowed down to read the restaurants’ signs.
Hunter College students Nalanie Hariprasad and Crystal Ye had planned on getting lunch at Up Thai before realizing the restaurant was participating in the protest.
“Even though it’s kind of an inconvenience to me, I feel like that’s the whole point, to show how much they mean so it brings attention to how many people are really immigrants in this country,” Hariprasad said.
Jessica Blatt and Jennifer Mueller were also hoping to stop in to Up Thai for lunch. Upon seeing the restaurant’s sign, however, they said they fully supported the businesses that were choosing to close down in protest.
“I was taking note of the ones in my neighborhood that shut down to make sure that I patronize them more tomorrow and in the future,” said Blatt, whose husband immigrated to the United States. “The city runs on the low paid labor of immigrants and we should be doing more to be in solidarity with them all the time.”
Mueller reiterated Blatt’s sentiments. “One in three New Yorkers are immigrants,” she added. “So it’s all of us.”
On the Upper West Side, the sandwich chain Lenwich, on Columbus between 82nd and 83rd streets, was open with limited service, while Land Thai Kitchen, on Amsterdam between 81st and 82nd streets, was closed.
The manager of Lenwich, who declined to give her name, said they were going to close at 5 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. because so many of their employees participated in the protest. Out of more than two dozen employees, only six came to work, she said. Employees of other Lenwich locations were moved to the Upper West Side to fill in for several of the protesting employees.
Both establishments explained their involvement in the protest with signs, which customers stopped to read as they walked up to the front doors.
Robert Felsenthal, who had planned to have lunch at Land Thai Kitchen before realizing it was closed, said he supported the ideals of the protest.
“It’s really sad that they are interfering in the lives of people who have been here for years,” said Felsenthal, referring to the recent reports of ICE raids on undocumented immigrants. “They contribute to the economy; their kids are here. It’s ridiculous.”
Downtown, Wogies Bar and Grill, on Trinity Place in the Financial District, found a way to join the protest without shutting down completely. The restaurant’s kitchen staff, waiters, and porters stayed home, leaving two bartenders to serve happy-hour specials all day. Patrons, who were invited to bring their own food to the bar with the kitchen closed, enjoyed beers paired with sandwiches from nearby food carts.
Black Iron Burger closed two of its three locations, including its Chelsea outpost on Seventh Avenue, in a “show of solidarity,” citing the chain’s immigrant ownership.
The Blue Ribbon Restaurants restaurant group closed seven of its locations Thursday, including Blue Ribbon Brasserie in Soho. A notice posted on the door read: “We stand 100% behind our employees — whether they are immigrants or born in America, back of house or front of house. When employees who haven’t missed a day of work in 25 years come to you and ask for a day off to march against injustice, the answer is easy.”
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