Through pro-immigration goods, employee assistance, and community outreach, these restaurateurs are speaking out to support immigrants
I always present myself as an indigenous woman of color,” Yajaira Saavedra, an owner of the Bronx’s standout Oaxacan restaurant La Morada,says. “I’m very proud of my roots.” Her family’s restaurant serves moles, tlayudas, and other Oaxacan dishes in a bright, often-packed space that prominently features a banner reading “No deportaciones / No deportations.” A lending library offering free books to the community sits in the back, and the front door has bright red letters on black that read “Refugees Welcome.”
Saavedra, along with other Mexican restaurateurs around the city, like Daniel Ortiz De Montellano Luft of Casa Publica and Guillaume Guevara of Miscelanea,have been vocal advocates for Mexico and for their communities here in NYC. All three have spoken out on Trump’s immigration policies, and Guevara launched a line of pro-immigration goods like hats, pins, and stickers in his Mexican deli that benefits the American Civil Liberties Union. Luft and chef Fany Gerson (the two are married) have assisted their employees with immigration proceedings and paperwork. Luft feels strongly compelled to do this work. “Hearing these stories from the people who work for us, it’s hard not to be engaged,” he says. Read more.
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In 2018, economists from Miami and Trinity Universities used Congressional Budget Office methodology to measure the effect a $15 federal minimum wage might have on the workforce. They found, if implemented in 2020, it would reduce employment by roughly two million jobs. Raising the minimum wage would also disproportionately impact entry-level positions where unemployment rates are the highest. In other words, it would hit the restaurant industry like a sledgehammer.
The National Restaurant Association recently surveyed 529 full-service operators with tipped employees. The median hourly earnings of entry-level servers were $19 per hour. More experienced servers made $25 per hour.
That’s a small sample of how serious this issue could be for restaurant owners, who already grapple with razor-thin margins and the challenges of running a small business. But unlike many companies, you have to toss gratuity into the picture. Read more.