Restaurants around nation join sanctuary movement to protect workers, customers

The Sanctuary Restaurants Movement aims to offer safe and tolerant spaces to restaurant workers, employers, and consumers that face hate and harassment.

Elise Amendola/AP/File
Kayla Mitchell makes sandwiches at Good Day Cafe in North Andover, Mass.

Numerous restaurants across the country have joined a Sanctuary Restaurants Movement to offer safe and tolerant spaces to restaurant workers, employers, and consumers that face hate and harassment in the restaurant industry.

As a collaborative project between the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC United) and, the Sanctuary Restaurant Movement seeks to not only create solidarity, but also to provide support and resources like job training and legal advice to individuals and their families impacted by hostile policies.  

“We are launching Sanctuary Restaurants because restaurant workers are on the front lines of discrimination and hate in America,” says Saru Jayaraman, Co-founder and Co-director of ROC United in a press release. ”While the restaurant industry suffers from a labor shortage, anti-immigrant and sexist rhetoric is now commonplace. Sanctuary Restaurants seeks to create the world we want—establishments free from hate and discrimination.”

With a zero-tolerance policy for sexism, racism, and xenophobia, members of the Sanctuary Movement believe that there is a place at the table for all. According to the movement’s website, participating restaurants do not allow for the harassment of any individual based on nationality, refugee status, religion, race, gender, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.

According to Matt Nelson, Executive Director of, “The Sanctuary Restaurant Movement will provide protections for targeted workers and elevate and celebrate restaurants that commit to resist the draconian, anti-immigration efforts of the incoming administration.”

Participating restaurants display a “Sanctuary Restaurant: A Place at the Table for Everyone” placard on their premises and are able to connect with fellow members in sharing ideas and worker protection policies. All interested restaurants can join the movement by signing up online.

“I hope that good businesses all over the country already do these things,” shared Josh Kulp, co-owner of Honey Butter Fried Chicken, a Sanctuary Restaurant in Chicago, in an interview. “Sometimes it’s important to make it clear, especially in times when you feel that not everyone is on that same page.”

So far, more than one hundred restaurants have joined the movement, spanning the nation from Maine to California. COLORS Restaurants, New York City’s Marlow & Sons, and San Francisco’s Coi are among those on the list.

For a list of Sanctuary Restaurants nationwide click here.

This story originally appeared on Food Tank.

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