February 16

Restaurants Show Support for Immigrant Workers

​Top restaurants in Portland, Oregon, are making a stand for immigrant rights. Motivated by the current political climate, with the constant discussion about travel bans, building walls and stepped up deportation stings, many chefs and owners are looking for ways to support an important segment of their workforce: immigrants.

Andy Ricker, owner of Pok Pok restaurants, organized more than 30 Portland restaurants to help raise money for the Oregon ACLU. The fundraiser is meant to both help with legal bills and to show support for the immigrants that work in their restaurants.

“There’s a bit of an atmosphere of intolerance and potentially worse than that right now. We just wanted to do something. These are folks I’ve worked with my whole life in the industry and will continue to do so forever,” Ricker told KGW in an interview. “The restaurant industry is built with immigrant labor, with immigrant creativity, we wouldn’t have a restaurant industry without immigrants.”

Ricker left the specifics of the fundraiser up to each business, allowing each to add their own message of support. Mona Johnson of Tournant suggested donating 13% of drink sales “in honor of our immigrant communities that make up 13% of our population.” Chefs like Naomi Pomeroy followed suit for Thursday service, and also pledged 10% of all sales through the weekend.

1)This weekend, 2/18-2/19, Portland restaurants will donate part of proceeds to @ACLU to help fight for our immigrant brothers and sisters!

— Andy Ricker (@pawkhrua) February 13, 2017

The participating restaurants are all renowned in and outside of Portland:

Accanto, all Pok Pok locations, Podnah’s Pit Barbecue, The Woodsman Tavern, Toro Bravo, EaT: An Oyster Bar, Pambiche, Multnomah Whiskey Library, The Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar, ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria, Roman Candle Baking Co., ChefStable Group, Noble Rot, Little Bird Bistro, Mediterranean Exploration Company, LePigeon, Old Salt Marketplace, Grain & Gristle

One of the many reasons Ricker could create such a high rate of participation was his use of social media, and that he encouraged personalization of the fundraiser. If you’re interested in creating your own fundraiser in your city, this is clearly a model to consider.

Update: Restaurants across the country are closing to mark ‘Day Without Immigrants.’ To highlight how central immigrants are to the US economy, many businesses are closed for business today. Other businesses and schools are preparing to be short-staffed as workers and students participate in the protest as well. Read more about it in USA Today.

About the author

Jack Hott

Some say Jack Hott was born in a restaurant. Others say he wasn’t born at all but discovered behind a Hobart stand mixer. Wherever he comes from, he’s made a career out of only being a good enough employee to skate by in the restaurant industry since the mid-90s. Jack Hott, if that’s even his real name, has gotten lost in walk-ins, stared into the abyss of pizza ovens, spilled red wine on white linen tablecloths, and shaken cocktails he was supposed to stir. If you can find him on social media, for your own safety, please do not follow him.


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