clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Boston Restaurants Standing in Solidarity With ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ Strike

Some places will be closed on Thursday, February 16

Stock photograph of a closed sign in a window Shutterstock

In response to United States immigration policies, protests and boycotts are expected to take place nationwide on Thursday, February 16 — dubbed “A Day Without Immigrants.” Participants plan to stay home from work or school and avoid making purchases. Various flyers in circulation call on “all undocumented, residents, citizens, immigrants from all around the world” to take part, noting that “we might lose a day of work but we will win so much more.”

“Without us and without our contribution, this country is paralyzed,” according to some of the flyers.

Due to the large number of immigrants working in the restaurant industry, restaurants nationwide are closing in support of the strike or finding other ways to show solidarity or avoid penalizing employees for staying home. Locally, a few restaurants have announced their intentions; we’re tracking them here, and we’ll update this list throughout the day as more come to our attention. (Email us at boston@eater.com if something’s missing.)


CLOSED

  • Aceituna Grill (Kendall Square, Cambridge) — “Our Kendall Square location will be closed today, Thursday, Feb. 16th, because many of our workers will be supporting the Day Without Immigrants protest. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but we support our employees' right to protest. Our Seaport location [57 Boston Wharf Rd.] will be OPEN 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.”
  • Anna’s Taqueria (Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Newton) — “Anna’s Taqueria is closed today in recognition of the ‘Day Without Immigrants.’ Anna’s success has been built around our loyal staff, many of whom are immigrants or come from immigrant families. We support our employees and value what they have brought to our Anna’s community for over 20 years.”
  • BLR by Shojo and Shojo (Chinatown, Boston) — “Shojo and BLR by Shojo will be closed February 16th to participate in the Day Without Immigrants Strike. We are choosing to participate in solidarity with all immigrants as a reflection of our resolute belief in diversity. The beauty of our location in Chinatown is its deep rooted history in migration, opportunity, and innovation. Our restaurants’ heart and soul are no exception. We hope you understand our choice to commit to this movement.”
  • The Chubby Chickpea (Canton) — “The Chickpea is only here because of a dreamer who immigrated to the US more than 40 years ago. We stand with immigrants everywhere tomorrow.”
  • Comella’s Restaurant (Multiple locations) — “Comella's will be closed today to support the ‘Day Without Immigrants.’ We support our employees that have kept Comella's what it's always been about for us for 28 years: FAMILY.”
  • Dirty Water Dough Co. (Back Bay, Boston) — “Immigrants are the engine here at Dirty Water Dough. In support of ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ we are closed for the day. C you tomorrow!”
  • Doretta Tavern & Raw Bar (Back Bay, Boston) — “Doretta will be closed Thursday to allow our staff to attend the national protest of foreign born and immigrant workers. We look forward to serving you again on Friday.”
  • Erbaluce (Bay Village, Boston) — “Erbaluce will be closed Thursday night to allow our staff to attend the national protest of foreign born and immigrant workers. We stand in solidarity with our employees from all over the world.”
  • McKenna’s Cafe (Dorchester, Boston)
  • Modelo’s Market Cafe (Magoun Square, Somerville)
  • Muqueca (Inman Square, Cambridge) — “Let’s stand united!!!”
  • Oasis Brazilian Steakhouse (Medford) — “We apologize for any inconvenience, but this Thursday (February 16th) we, as an immigrant founded business, will be closed to show support to our community and fight for our people: THE HUMAM RACE. We will return to our regular operating hours on Friday (February 17th). Thank you for understanding!”
  • La Posada (Magoun Square, Somerville)
  • Sangria Restaurant & Tapas (Newton) — “In support of our fellow immigrants, our business will be closed today.”

OPEN, BUT EXPRESSING SUPPORT IN OTHER WAYS

  • Atwood’s Tavern (877 Cambridge St., East Cambridge) — “Today, we stand united with our immigrant family. Our kitchen will be closed all day and night. The bar will be open at 3:30. While this may be an ‘inconvenience’ for some, it is nowhere near the ‘inconvenience’ that the current administration has caused for our good, hardworking brothers and sisters. Resist!” Live music is on for tonight (Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band); $10 cover.
  • Bagelsaurus (1796 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge) — “We are open today, just barely. Many of our finest, funloving, hardworking employees are at home today observing ‘A Day Without Immigrants.’ Leave them some love when you come in today, will ya?!”
  • Barbara Lynch Gruppo: No. 9 Park (9 Park St., Beacon Hill, Boston), Menton (354 Congress St., Fort Point, Boston), B&G Oysters (550 Tremont St., South End, Boston), Sportello (348 Congress St., Fort Point, Boston), Drink (348 Congress St., Fort Point, Boston), The Butcher Shop (552 Tremont St., South End, Boston), Stir (102 Waltham St., South End, Boston) — “Today, and all days, I stand behind my staff,” writes Barbara Lynch. “We support any on our team who choose not to work.” (See additional details on Drink’s plans for the day below.)
  • Brick & Mortar (567 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge), Central Kitchen (567 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge), and Firebrand Saints (1 Broadway, Kendall Square, Cambridge) — A Facebook post from owner Gary Strack, shared with permission:

I don’t think it’s widely known outside most immigrant communities but there is a national general strike called for this Thursday, February 16th. This means that many foreign born workers will not be showing up for their jobs on that day and if you are in the restaurant business this is complicated news. These fellow restaurant workers are scared for their families and themselves. Trump administration has made its intentions clear and is poised to use its power to wreck their lives. In the sometimes-hermetic Brazilian and Latin American communities in greater Boston this strike is a big deal. In their news media, at their places of worship, in their community gathering places, there is great pressure to join this protest.

Brenno Rodriguez Rosa, my brilliant and trusted advisor and partner in all things kitchen and I are reaching out to see if there is an acceptable alternative protest given that this action could hurt small businesses and especially restaurants that have always been integrated and stalwart supporters of thoughtful immigration reform. But if our efforts fail and there is a work stoppage I will understand even though that situation could cost tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue across my three establishments. I ask my fellow employers and managers that if a line cook or bus boy or dishwasher doesn’t show up for work on Thursday that you excuse his or her absence without repudiation. That co-worker is being threatened by the government and is rightfully feeling estranged and fearful. This is the current tactic of our elected officials. Most demagogues like Trump pave their path to power on fear. Race is the favorite target – but so are religion, gender, and sexuality. The point of all this is to divide America so that we become small, petty, and easily lead. We can’t fall into that by siding against our fellow restaurant workers no matter the cost or inconvenience.

I have spent almost all my life in restaurants since I was 12 years old. I’ve never met an "illegal alien" as the right wing describes them. I work beside many people who are stuck somewhere in the immigration process in an unfair way. I work side by side with men and women who are taxpaying non-citizens. I work with fathers and mothers of American children whose deportation could threaten those young Americans’ futures. I walked into Central Kitchen last week and my Brazilian born grill cook, proud father, showed me a photograph of his son who just made sergeant at Fort Bragg. Yes the restaurant industry has a problem but our problem is not with our brother and sister chefs, cook, managers, dishwashers, servers, hosts, and bus girls. Never let the rhetoric of hate separate us from understanding and supporting the pursuit of liberty of others.

  • Cambridge Brewing Co. (1 Kendall Sq., Kendall Square, Cambridge) — Anyone who doesn’t come to work on February 16 will get a full day’s pay. The restaurant will be running a verbal menu with three choices. Instead of a printed menu, diners will receive a letter from the owner about why the restaurant can only serve three items for the day. From owner Phil Bannatyne: "CBC will be open tomorrow with an extremely limited menu. We support our immigrant team members politically, emotionally and financially as they strike tomorrow. Immigrants contribute bigly to our nation."
  • Chelsea Station (105 Everett Ave., Chelsea) — Portions of a Facebook post from co-owner Michael Sheridan, shared with permission:

As an owner I'm proud of the fact that my staff, front and back of house, is diverse and multicultural. Not because I tried to make it that way, but because we hired people based upon their qualities and skills, not the color of their skin or their place of birth.

I really hope this walk out has a nationwide impact, and if this one doesn't, then I hope they plan another and another, but going forward plan them on days where the impact will be felt the most. Graduation weekend, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day weekend, Easter brunch, etc.

Although we will be open for business tomorrow, I support my staff in their decision to stay home. I'm just thankful that I have enough bodies to open with; I know others that won't be so lucky.

  • Drink (348 Congress St., Fort Point, Boston) — “Join us as we support our friends and family in boycotting US immigration policies. We will only be serving imported spirits and throwing a party to support our community. We will be donating money to CARA, an organization that helps provide legal aid to women and children seeking asylum in the USA.”
  • Dudley Cafe (15 Warren St., Roxbury, Boston) — A Facebook post from general manager Biplaw Rai, shared with permission:

You are eating food made by an immigrant.

My first job when I came to this country was in the food industry. Like most immigrants it was readily available to me and it was a great way to know the culture through food. Since my first days, I have had jobs that are directly or indirectly related to food industry. Throughout my years in food industry I have come across the most hard working, honest, and sincere people; immigrants from all over the world.

You may not realize that the food that is on your plate is most likely made, served, grown, and packed by an immigrant. You may not realize that the strawberry that you so fondly enjoy is grown, picked, washed, packaged, drove, put on shelves, sold at counters, and served in restaurants by immigrants. Food industry workers are one of the least appreciated and least paid service industries in the U.S. "Only 20 percent of restaurant jobs pay a living wage, and women, people of color, and immigrants are often excluded from these living-wage positions" (Anya Sacharow, 2013).

Yet time and again we are scrutinized for taking away jobs. We are vilified and demonized for feeding our families. Trump and his supporters forget that they themselves are here because of their immigrant parents. They forget that this land was built on the back of slaves and immigrants. They forget that their homes are cleaned by immigrants, their cars are cleaned by immigrants, their food are prepared by immigrants, their kids are taught by immigrants, their wives and husbands are immigrants, and most importantly they forget that they themselves are immigrant to this nation.

Please take a moment the next time you are in a restaurant, cafes, or markets and think how much of a contribution immigrants have made for this country. And ask yourself "What can I do to advocate for those that this administration is attempting to further disfranchise?"

Dudley Cafe is an immigrant company and many of our employees are immigrants. We will support anyone that chooses to participate in tomorrow's strike on "A Day without immigrants.”

  • Eataly Boston (800 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston) — “We apologize for any delay or disruption you might experience tomorrow at Eataly. We are an immigrant company, born in Italy, with many immigrant employees. Any team member who chooses to participate in the national ‘Day Without Immigrants’ protest strike has our support.”
  • El Pelon Taqueria (2197 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton; 97 Peterborough St., Fenway, Boston) — A message sent from a representative of the restaurant on 2/17:

El Pelon Taqueria stands with Boston's local immigrant community and is proud to be a part of a nation founded by immigrants. Though El Pelon's doors did not close during the #DayWithoutImmigrants strike, please know El Pelon's privilege to support those looking to better their position in Boston has always been present. Jim Hoben [owner] has been committed and will continue to be in ardent support of diversity, and immigration, by offering a competitive living wage, provides English as a second language education for their employees, and more. El Pelon has dedicated their support to immigration causes by supporting events like #onebostonday and others. To further advocate El Pelon's support for a #DayWithoutImmigrants, El Pelon will be donating 20% of its proceeds from yesterday day to the MIRA Coalition. We're very proud of our fellow restauranteurs that support the same initiatives. Meet our community here.

  • Emma’s Pizza (537A Columbus Ave., South End, Boston) — From owner Jeffrey Weingast: “We discussed the ‘Day Without Immigrants’ at work a little today. I went home to read about what it was all about and then offered the employees who mentioned it the day to observe it how they wanted. I'll be paying them for their absence and fully support their cause. In the current state of affairs, this is a no-brainer.”
  • Flat Top Johnny’s (1 Kendall Sq., Kendall Square, Cambridge) — “FTJ is open and in full support (including a day's pay) for any striking workers today.”
  • Foundry on Elm (255 Elm St., Davis Square, Somerville) — “We are open today, but fully support those who have chosen to strike on ‘A Day Without Immigrants.’ We acknowledge that our restaurant and our community would not be the same without their contributions.”
  • Grendel’s Den (89 Winthrop St., Harvard Square, Cambridge) — Fundraising for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, Standing Rock, and ACLU Massachusetts. “We want to express solidarity with the national strike, but as a small independent business, closing is not an option. Additionally, we feel that the local taverns can play a role — historically and culturally — in resistance to tyranny. Whether providing real meeting places for the patriots of the Revolutionary War or evoking fictional settings for young heroes to find a space cowboy to take them to the rebel base, taverns allow people to come together. We want to be available for that purpose. If you don’t want to spend money that day, we get it and support it. We respectfully suggest you consider taking your patronage to independent businesses, and we will be featuring items selected by our staff and donating proceeds from these sales to charities of their choice.”
  • Juliet (257 Washington St., Union Square, Somerville) — Placing the following note in the check presenter at dinner:

Did you know that today, many immigrant workers across the city (and state, and nation) did not report to work as part of a national strike?

This is especially impactful to this industry that we love, where immigrants make up a large portion of the workforce. Historically, this mainly relates to entry level positions. At Juliet, we are committed to developing more meaningful career pathways for these workers as well.

Many restaurants around the country are closed today, some willingly in solidarity with the protest and others out of necessity, being unable to fill enough positions in their schedules. We have elected to remain open, although we have given the option for our staff to miss the day if they would like to, with our full support.

As always at Juliet, there is no expectation of a gratuity at the end of your meal. 1% of today's sales as well as anything left in addition to your check will be donated to the Boston based Student Immigration Movement, an immigrant youth led organization focussed on equality, human rights, and civil liberties.

  • Los Amigos Taqueria (1743 Centre St., West Roxbury; 324 Walnut St., Newtonville; 1294 Beacon St., Coolidge Corner, Brookline; 366 Washington St., Brighton Center) — “Today we support those who chose to participate in the ‘day without immigrants’ strike. Being a small local company we cannot afford to close for the day but will be supporting our team members all the way. We were founded by an immigrant family and are made up of a lot of loyal immigrant employees who help make Los Amigos a great place to grab a meal everyday! Thank you for your understanding.”
  • Mainely Burgers (704 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge) — “MB co-owners (and brothers) Jack and Max Barber are slinging burgers today and showing support while many of the MB team members participate in the ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ protest. Due to a smaller team we are open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Come by and see who else might be in the kitchen.”
  • Mei Mei (506 Park Dr., Fenway, Boston) — “We believe immigrants help make America great. Today we donate dumpling proceeds to Boston Legal Aid in honor of ‘A Day Without Immigrants.’”
  • Mike & Patty’s (12 Church St., Bay Village, Boston) — “We stand in solidarity with ‘A Day Without Immigrants.’ Immigrants coming to chase the American Dream continue to make this country great.”
  • Oleana (134 Hampshire St., Cambridge) — “To show our support of the protest, ‘A day without immigrants,’ Oleana will be donating 5 percent of sales to the ACLU in honor of the immigrants on our staff.”
  • Purple Cactus (674 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, Boston) — “In support of today’s ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ protest, the Purple Cactus staff has elected to work and for Purple Cactus to remain open and to donate 100% of today’s sales revenues to the ACLU Massachusetts and LULAC Boston. We are stronger together!”
  • True Bistro (1153 Broadway, Teele Square, Somerville) — “Nearly everyone that comes to True Bistro has experienced the warmth and charm of Mike Harrison. Mike and his sunny personality emigrated from Bermuda. In honor of him and all the other immigrants that make True Bistro the restaurant we dreamed of opening and for others pursuing the American dream, we will donate a portion of proceeds today to those fighting for immigrants’ rights at the ACLU.”
  • Veggie Galaxy (450 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge) — “Veggie Galaxy has been open all day, with a limited menu of baked goods, soup and drinks, and we will be closing at 4:00. We fully support our staff and colleagues who chose to participate in the strike today. We are grateful to our wonderful guests who stopped in to eat soup or cake or just have a coffee here today to express their support, and also to those who shared kind words of support on our social media. The Boston restaurant community really pulls together — staff, guests and owners alike — when it matters.”
  • Villa Mexico Café (121 Water St., Downtown, Boston) — “Villa México Café is a restaurant founded by immigrant women. Thanks to fellow immigrants we have all made this Mexican restaurant grow and operate for 17 years. Although we cannot close tomorrow we stand in solidarity with our community. Anyone in our team who wants to participate in these protests has our support, and if we can manage it our arms and legs to walk with them. We encourage other fellow restaurant owners to connect with us as we create a network of support to protect our collective team members. You can call us at the restaurant to learn when this group of restaurateurs meets. It may be scary, it may be hard to schedule, it may take time in our already overwhelmed lives, but without our people, our teams, our ‘immigrants,’ none of our restaurants can succeed. We need to stand together.”
  • Wilcox Hospitality Group: Bukowski Tavern (50 Dalton St., Back Bay, Boston and 1281 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge), The Lower Depths (476 Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square, Boston), The Tip Tap Room (138 Cambridge St., Beacon Hill, Boston) — The restaurants are serving exclusively Latin-inspired menus tonight in place of the regular menus and donating 20% of sales to their immigrant employees’ charity of choice. (The other Wilcox restaurants, Parish Cafe and Parish II, are closed for renovations this week.) “I’ve been fortunate enough to work at restaurants throughout the country for the past 24 years and there is one thing they all have in common: The immigrant community is the very backbone and heart of every restaurant,” said Brian Poe, chef/owner of the Cambridge location of Bukowski Tavern and The Tip Tap Room. “Today, we stand in solidarity with our rock stars and give them the opportunity to work or not work but we will be supporting them every step of the way and giving back to any cause they choose.”

Anna's Taqueria (Beacon Hill/MGH)

242 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02134 617 227 8822

Erbaluce

69 Church Street, , MA 02116 (617) 426-6969 Visit Website

Drink

348 Congress Street, , MA 02210 (617) 695-1806 Visit Website

Villa Mexico Cafe

121 Water St., Boston, MA (617) 957-0725 Visit Website

Emma's Pizza (South End)

537A Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 02118 617-606-3841 Visit Website

Cambridge Brewing Company

1 Kendall Square, , MA 02139 (617) 494-1994 Visit Website

Eataly

800 Boylston St., Boston, MA Visit Website

Grendel's Den Restaurant & Bar

89 Winthrop Street, , MA 02138 (617) 491-1160 Visit Website

Brick & Mortar

567 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 Visit Website

Veggie Galaxy

450 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 (617) 497-1513 Visit Website

Firebrand Saints

1 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02142 (617) 401-3399 Visit Website

The Best Little Restaurant

13 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111 Visit Website

Central Kitchen

567 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 (617) 491-5599 Visit Website

Shojo

9 Tyler Street, , MA 02111 (617) 423-7888 Visit Website

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Boston newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter.