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Honey Butter Fried Chicken Joins 'Sanctuary Restaurants' Aiming To Combat Discrimination

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jan 4, 2017 10:53PM

via HBFC

During the recent presidential election cycle, there was a lot of coverage of so-called "Sanctuary Cities." These are municipalities that don't let their police inquire about immigration status or choose to provide services to undocumented immigrants. President-Elect Trump has threatened to de-fund them. Now, a more local version of the concept has entered the restaurant world: "Sanctuary Restaurants."

Two organizations, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and Presente, have teamed up to start the brand new program. Participating restaurants agree not to allow harassment on their property "based on immigrant/refugee status, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation" and post prominent signage labeling themselves as a sanctuary restaurant, using the slogan "A Place At the Table for Everyone" in the restaurant.

In an industry that employs a significant number of individuals without documentation, immigration enforcement is a very real issue, especially as the incoming administration has threatened extensive deportations and crackdowns.

"While the restaurant industry suffers from a labor shortage, anti-immigrant and sexist rhetoric is now commonplace," Restaurant Opportunities Centers United co-founder Saru Jayaraman said in a statement. "Sanctuary Restaurants seeks to create the world we want - establishments free from hate and discrimination, where everyone has a seat at the table."

The list of restaurants is small so far, but includes some prominent Midwestern locations, including Chicago's own Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Zingerman's in Ann Arbor. Learn more online. On their website, they also have resources for restaurant employees, including tips for what rights they have during an immigration raid, a printable "my rights" card and a number to report incidents of discrimination.

Will this make a huge difference to undocumented immigrants (especially restaurant employees) in the age of Trump? It's definitely a sign of resistance, and one that may alienate some patrons depending on the restaurant's location. But it might also provide a sense of solidarity between employees and restaurant ownership, and given the ongoing difficulties restaurants are having finding labor, this might be a real draw. We'll keep an eye on the list of restaurants that join up.

Update: We reached out to Josh Kulp and Christine Cikowski, chefs at Honey Butter Fried Chicken, to learn more about their participation in the program.

“We are happy to be a Sanctuary Restaurant, which we believe means a discrimination free zone for everyone - that includes our staff, customers, and our community. Regardless of background, race, gender, politics - all are welcome here. Honey Butter strives to be a safe, nurturing, and non-judgmental space for our staff, customers, and our community.”