Restaurants nationwide are organizing against attacks and discrimination of people in the restaurant industry by joining the Sanctuary Restaurant movement, which declares eateries should offer “a place at the table for everyone” — immigrants, refugees, people of all genders, faiths, races, sexual orientations in the workplace. zCafe in Costa Mesa is so far the first and only Orange County restaurant to achieve such designation via the Sanctuary Restaurant Project.
A joint collaboration of ROC United (Restaurant Opportunity Centers) and Presente.org (a prominent national Latinx online organization), with participation by eateries, the Sanctuary Restaurants movement offers support and resources to restaurant workers, employers and consumers impacted by the hostile policies and actions of our current presidential administration. In a statement for ROC United, Co-founder and Co-director Saru Jayaraman stated that, “We are launching Sanctuary Restaurants because restaurant workers are on the front lines of discrimination and hate in America and Sanctuary Restaurants seeks to create the world we want — establishments free from hate and discrimination.”
David Hastie, the General Manager of zCafe came across the movement through an industry newsletter email. “It was a short blurb about some restaurants in Chicago that had joined,” Hastie says. “I followed the links to the sanctuaryrestaurants.org website and read what they were about, their tagline, ‘A place at the table for everyone’ is not just about immigration, it’s about all kinds of people being welcomed both as employees and customers. We’re in the business of hospitality and serving people and that’s what we’re gonna do.” With a zero=tolerance policy for discrimination, zCafe joined the movement.
As of today, over 400 establishments across the country have signed up to be sanctuary restaurants (which isn’t a legal designation ala sanctuary cities, haters), according to Sheila Maddali, Co-coordinator of Law and Organizing Dept for ROC United. “We don’t have the capacity to be everywhere and know all the restaurants, so we encourage fellow restaurateurs to spread the movement organically by word of mouth,” says Maddali. “On our part, Sanctuary Restaurants offers a series of trainings for both employers and workers on their rights and obligations on various legal topics.” ‘Know your rights’ training for workers educates them on their rights if they are dealing with immigration or workplace discrimination and helps employers to develop model policies and best practices for how to not only understand the law but make sure they have policies in place that protect their workers in a more sustained long term comprehensive way.
Hastie says he has already taken advantage of the webinar that deals with immigration issues from an employers standpoint, “It was presented by immigration attorneys free of charge and talked on I-9 compliance, what to expect if ICE does show up at your location, rights for workers and employers in those situations.” The project also empowers diners to contact them if they experience hate, harassment, or discriminations at a restaurant such as the incident Diana Carrillo was subjected to at Saint Marc.
And in the case of an emergency the project has a rapid response network in which Maddali advises to contact their emergency resources, “Our legal team will get back to the restaurant within 15 minutes but in the occurrence of an immediate raid, we would keep them on the line and get them on the phone with an attorney and try and get someone on the ground. We offer support and resources to workers, restaurants, and consumers to help create a peer network throughout the country — connected with legal communication and resources through ROC United so they can make sure they’re in legal compliance in the most just way possible,” she says.
If you’d like to join the movement, click here. And, more importantly: patronize zCafe for its righteous move. Alright, all other OC restaurants: where you at?
zCafe, 3333 Bear St., Costa Mesa, (714) 545-5500
Cynthia Rebolledo covers anything and everything food, culture and spirits.