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Danya Henninger

Philly resistance update: Restaurants will close again, this time on May 1

Washington DC’s Spendrise is keeping everyone on the same (web) page.

Updated 11:20 a.m.

Good news for the Philly resistance: The “General Strike” planned for May 1 will be much more organized than February’s “Day Without Immigrants” — and it comes with built-in sources of funding for participants.

After the February 16 day of action, several Philly restaurant owners expressed dismay that the walkoff to protest the Trump Administration’s immigration policies was sprung upon them with no notice. “We only found out about it a few days before,” was a common lament Billy Penn heard, as was the feedback that “margins are so slim, we can’t really afford to close for a whole day.”

Consumers, too, were left somewhat confused by who was participating and what they could do to show support. “I wanted to buy a ticket to a sold out ‘Sanctuary Supper,’ just to help the cause,” one reader wrote via email, but when she contacted the restaurant, she didn’t receive a reply. Restaurants aren’t clearinghouses for donations, after all, and there wasn’t a central location set up to collect funds.

This time around, there is.

Spendrise, a DC-based platform for socially-conscious fundraising, has partnered with the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) to create a website that makes it easy to reward restaurants that take a stand. It also makes it easy for restaurants to see what other shops are participating — strength in numbers — and for consumers to express support, both psychologically and financially.

“This is part of our consumer work,” said Sheila Maddali, co-director of ROC’s Pennsylvania branch and one of the organizers of the Sanctuary Restaurants movement.

“We want restaurants to close in solidarity with the workers, but we want them to be paid for. With Spendrise, people can donate or get a gift certificate.”

The new Spendrise site features a listing of hundreds of restaurants around the country (including, so far, 22 from Philadelphia) that have shown solidarity with the activist movement this year. The list is composed of venues that have signed up on SanctuaryRestaurants.org, spots that closed or showed support on the Feb. 16 Day Without Immigrants, and places that participated in the March 8 “Day Without A Woman” action. There’s also a form for people to suggest other potential businesses to be added.

Next to each restaurant on the list is a button consumers can click to “pledge.” Right now, that pledge just asks for a name and email address — it doesn’t take credit card information for donations. That part will come later, Maddali explained.

“This is to show the restaurants that there is consumer support,” she said. “We will follow up with all of them individually and ask if they will close.”

Once ROC has a definite list of venues confirming participation on May 1, people will be able to buy gift certificates to those restaurants (or make donations directly), thereby providing extra revenue to cover sales lost on that day.

There’s also a more local way for Philly restaurants and consumers to track involvement and raise money for the May 1 action.

PAUWR, the undocumented workers’ rights organization founded by Ben Miller and Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa, is maintaining its own list of participating restaurants — and offering to hand out decorated donation boxes to collect funds to cover the cost of closing. So far, all of the following places have confirmed they will shut down for the General Strike:

  • Sate Kampar
  • Le Virtu
  • Hungry Pigeon
  • El Sarape
  • Mole Poblano
  • W/N W/N Coffee Bar
  • Brigantessa
  • ITV
  • El Compadre

“We plan on chatting more with the CEO from Spendrise to discuss how [our] info can be shared,” Miller told Billy Penn. “Spendrise may incentivize closing for May 1 for some owners, who see that there may be additional business coming their way. Getting the word out in as many sources as possible is a good thing.”

The second part to what PAUWR is planning for May 1 — a big potluck party at the Bok building in South Philly — is still coming together. Stay tuned for more on how to get involved with the feast.

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