- January 5, 2017

These Austin Restaurants Will Openly Defy Donald Trump

Two Austin restaurants have joined a movement aimed at defying President-elect Donald Trump in the best way possible — by making their dining rooms into “safe spaces” where people may not be harassed based on immigration status, sexuality, religious affiliation, or ethnicity. The movement, which was kicked off Jan. 4, is called “Sanctuary Restaurants.”

“Sanctuary restaurants have a zero tolerance policy for sexism, racism, and xenophobia. We believe that there is a place at the table for all,” the movement’s website explains. “Sanctuary Restaurants is a joint project of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United and Presente.org with participation by dozens of restaurants nationwide. Sanctuary Restaurants offer support and resources to workers impacted by hostile policies and actions, including women, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQI people and others.”

So, who’s in thus far? Right now it’s just L’Oca d’Oro (Eater Austin’s “top new restaurant of 2016”) and Black Star Co-op, but in a city as liberal as ATX, we bet there are more local restaurants to follow.

You’ll know them by their decor, too: Each sanctuary restaurant will put up a sign that declares all are “welcome at the table.” In return, the groups positioning the movement as a nationwide phenom (they hope) will direct their members and affiliate groups to patronize those restaurants, using them as spaces for meetings and to brainstorm strategies for pushing back against Trump-spun policies — like his proposed “deportation force” or unilateral ban on Muslim immigrants and travelers — that will adversely impact the lives of millions if carried out as promised.

To those ends, the group has also sent a letter to Trump beseeching him to look past partisan mania and the wedge issues of the campaign, and gaze more deeply into the chaos his policies will cause in the private sector. Take a look at the letter below, and then leave us a comment so the restaurants know how Austinites feel about their decisions here. Will this make you more likely to visit them? Or less? The owners of these local establishments are surely listening, so sound off!

Here’s the letter…

Dear President-Elect Trump,

We appreciate your call for unity in America. As restaurant employers, we write to you for help concerning a grave problem we face in our industry.

Restaurants in the United States employ over 12 million workers and we are one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the nation. We continue to grow exponentially while confronted with the absolute worst labor shortage in recent memory.

As a business owner, you know that a business is dependent on its workforce. America’s restaurant industry cannot survive without the many skilled professionals in our ranks.

We must retain each and every employee and we depend heavily, especially in metropolitan areas, on immigrant workers. Many have lived in this country for decades, paid taxes, and contributed to our industry; some acquire their own restaurants and provide even more jobs. The restaurant industry must maintain a robust pool of workers; we need immigrants and non-immigrants, and people of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations.

Tensions are very high in the restaurant industry now. Many have unwarranted but real fear for their safety, their families, and their place in this country. In the service industry, we cannot do our job to serve America when many among us are shaken and targeted.

We ask you to please speak out to alleviate the fear of deportation or other harassment of immigrant workers in our industry.

As fellow business owners dependent on immigrant inclusion in our workforce, we ask that you defend the unity you called for in our industry and our country. We ask that you choose a plan for an achievable path to citizenship for all workers over deportation.


(H/T: CBS Austin)