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Denver Restaurants Honor Day Without an Immigrant

Chef Frank Bonanno is closing Osteria Marco and Russell's Smokehouse today in solidarity


Restaurant workers across the country and in Denver are participating in the nationwide boycott called A Day Without an Immigrant. Today, several local restaurants expect to operate at diminished capacity or plan to close entirely in order to accommodate a demonstration by hospitality personnel opposing President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

A walk-out by restaurant staff is encouraged making their presence felt through their absence in many cases with the blessing of upper management.

"Our country was founded to celebrate the diversity of people who come from different corners of the world, and our country's success, innovation and spirit is in no small part because of this founding principle," Pete Turner of Illegal Pete's said. "We celebrate each individual at Illegal Pete's, and our own business is better because of the work and patronage of immigrants. We don't have any special plans for the day, but we support it wholeheartedly. We have expressed to our employees that if they feel compelled to strike, to just let us know so we can make sure the business continues to run smoothly," he added.

Here are the restaurants that are closed today:

Maria Empanada

Osteria Marco

Palenque Mezcaleria

Russell's Smokehouse

Adelita's Cocina y Cantina

Biju's Little Curry Shop


Pica's, which has locations in Boulder and Louisville is choosing to make a difference in a different way, by donating a portion of sales to advocacy groups who support immigrants. Here's the message the restaurant posted on its Facebook page:

Today we are donating a portion of our sales to local immigrant advocacy groups such as Boulder Ayuda, Intercambio and the Spanish Institute.
Here is why...
We don't like to mix politics and pleasure at Pica's.
But as owners of restaurants we understand the importance of our immigrant community and felt it important to stand in solidarity with all immigrants on this "Day Without an Immigrant".
On Facebook and Twitter it is easy to share bits and pieces of things and become enraged because of this and that and the other and then move on, more or less unaffected.
It is different when you see the personal side of things and how it affects people who work for you, with you, and alongside you and who have become your friends and essentially your family.
"Day Without An Immigrant" is not a new phenomenon but it has taken on more immediate relevancy over the past few months and especially weeks.
Our immigrant community is scared. Rumors are flying around of raids and people are afraid of being torn from their homes, their families, and the lives they have created here.
We stand in support of our immigrant community and believe they are not only important economically but they add to and enrich our community and lives.
Thank you for your support and if you'd like to support local advocacy groups here is some information:
Boulder Ayuda: non-profit, attorney-led organization, serving immigrants of Boulder.
Intercambio: Uniting communities by teaching English and providing resources
The Spanish Institute: Community hub and Spanish and English lessons for adults and children
#daywithoutanimmigrant #immigrantlivesmatter #boulderayuda #intercambio

In Breckenridge, many restaurants are standing united with those protesting by closing. Check before you go.

We will update this as we get more information.

Yesterday, the Colorado Restaurant Association warned owners about the possible strike with this message:

Dear CRA Members:

We have been informed by the National Restaurant Association as well as several of our members in Colorado that there will be potential employee walkouts as part of the "Day Without Immigrants" protest on Thursday, February 16. We are told that these protests are intended to highlight immigration issues and the proposed policy stances of the Trump Administration. Organizers are encouraging workers not to show up for work or to walk out of their jobs on Thursday.

First, we want you to be aware of this, and second, we want you to be prepared in advance. Obviously, as the business owner, you need to do what you think is most appropriate for your business.

Some thoughts to consider include:

1. Do you know if any of your staff is planning to protest? If so, can you find backup?

2. You may want to consider offering a less labor-intensive menu for the day.

3. Your employees have a legal right to protest. However, you are not obligated to pay non-exempt employees who are not working. You do need to be careful about exempt employees (reducing pay for the hours not worked could result in a loss of their exempt status). However, we don’t advise that you discipline employees on top of that. You don’t want to do or say anything that could be interpreted as a threat.

To cite one of our Labor Attorney Partners, Fisher & Phillips, in an article they wrote about protests in November:

What Do You Need To Know?

In advance of widespread protest activity … we recommend you plan ahead. As part of your plan, you should understand that this is a highly technical area of the law involving subtle fact-sensitive distinctions between lawful and unlawful conduct, but with significant ramifications from a remedial standpoint. Add to the mix the fact that the body of law governing this field is in a constant state of flux and ever-evolving, and you have the potential for a highly combustible situation. For these reasons, we encourage you to consult labor counsel before embarking on any specific directives in this area.

Workers May Be Protected By Federal Law

First and foremost, you need to recognize that the National Labor Relations Act [NLRA] protects all workers who engage in lawful concerted activity for the purposes of mutual aid and protection. This applies to unionized and non-unionized workforces alike. Any worker who takes or seeks to initiate an action among a group of employees about work-related issues, or brings complaints about the workplace to management, is covered under the statute. Therefore, if you take adverse action against these workers for their concerted, protected activity, you could face an unfair labor practice charge. You should not discipline workers for engaging in this concerted, protected activity. In fact, the unions and worker advocates may actually be eager for you to slip up and drop the disciplinary hammer on protestors, using your actions as an example to make workers into martyrs for their cause.

Please let us know if you experience any protest activity on Thursday so we can report back to the National Restaurant Association.

The Colorado Restaurant Association has long been in support of responsible immigration reform. We believe that immigrants are an important part of our workforce, and we support an immigration policy that includes a pathway to citizenship.

Sonia Riggs

CRA President & CEO