NEW YORK CITY — Restaurants big and small across the city closed Thursday in support of the social media-driven “A Day Without Immigrants” protest.
The protest, which draws attention to the economic impact of immigrants in the United States, calls on foreign-born employees around the country not to go to work and not go shopping for the day in response to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
In Bushwick, the owners of Ecuadorian restaurant La Gualaceña at 178 Wyckoff Ave. said they would still pay five of their employee who weren’t coming into work Thursday.
"It shows we're united,” Diego Matut, 42, said in Spanish.
His wife, 40-year-old Marcela Gomez, said the economy “wouldn’t move without us.”
The owner of another Wyckoff Avenue eatery, Sazón Nuñez, said she would be closing in solidarity with her workers and customers. While all of her employees reside here legally, some of her clients likely don't, she acknowledged.
"It shows to the country the power the immigrants have," Malbod Rodriguez, 46, said in Spanish. "They're people that come to work and do jobs no one wants to do."
Faye Hess, the owner of 51st Bakery and Café in Long Island City, said she decided to close for the day after hearing about the protest from her staffers, who wanted to participate as a show of solidarity.
“My workers came to me and said, ‘We can’t come to work on Thursday because this is going on, and we feel really strongly about it,' and I said, ‘Absolutely,’” she said.
"How can we not? That’s such an important part of what’s happening in this country,” Hess continued, saying she’s personally felt “sickened” and “hopeless” in the wake of Trump’s actions on immigration.
"I can’t stand by and say this is OK."
Hess said she's yet to hear feedback from her customers about the decision to close, though the café’s social media accounts received a number of positive comments Thursday morning.
"Good for them! but I desperately need coffee,” one patron wrote on Facebook.
Immigrant-owned restaurants and business along a stretch of Port Richmond Avenue in Staten Island — including Los Potrillos and Cafe Con Pan Bakery II — also closed down Thursday, taping signs to their gates in support of the protest, according to social media posts.
On a larger scale, the Blue Ribbon restaurant group announced it would close seven of its eateries Thursday, using the hashtag #ImmigrantsFeedAmerica.
More than 500 Blue Ribbon employees won’t be going into work, according to Eater.
Other restaurants that have said they’re closing include the Elmhurst Latin American restaurant Arepa Lady, Mexican popsicle shop La Newyorkina, and Carroll Gardens restaurants Frankies 457 Spuntino and Prime Meats, according to social media posts.
Popular Williamsburg Taiwanese spot Win Son said it intended to stay open but would be paying its immigrant employees time-and-a-half, as well as donating a fraction of its profits to the American Civil Liberties Union.