‘Day Without Immigrants’ could impact Summit County restaurants
February 14, 2017
Locals and visitors wanting a bite to eat in Summit County on Thursday may find something unexpected on the menu.
As part of the Day Without Immigrants protest that's begun to spread across the country, area restaurants may face the decision of whether to temporarily close due to staffing shortages or in support of their Latino employees. The campaign started in Wisconsin on Monday, with thousands of activists hitting Milwaukee streets in force to peacefully object to proposed Trump administration immigration policies.
Based on word-of-mouth efforts, leaflets and social media posts, Washington, D.C., eateries are said to be the next target for the migrant worker strike in efforts to show their economic strength and power. According to Washingtonian magazine, one D.C.-area flier, written in Spanish, called on immigrants not to go to work, open businesses, shop, eat out, buy gas, send their children to school or attend class.
"Mr. President," it reportedly reads, "without us and without our contribution this country is paralyzed."
Hearing about the budding national movement, members of the Breckenridge Restaurant Association began to discuss what each business will do individually. Some owners anticipated waiting to see who showed up for work Thursday and closing for the afternoon only if necessary, while others committed to shuttering for lunch that day to back the walk-out.
"All of a sudden it became a thing, and I want to be a part of that thing and show our support, and show them how much we love them," said Chmurny Cain, owner of The Motherloaded Tavern in Breckenridge. "It's crazy to think about how this would impact everybody in Summit County, and we just want to be able to do something."
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Motherloaded, which normally opens at 11:30 a.m., instead plans to stay closed until 4 p.m. on Thursday, with signs out front to explain to prospective diners why the restaurant and bar is not open for regular business hours. Personnel at Downstairs at Eric's pizzeria, owned by Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula, said the business is "absolutely supporting" the movement, but had yet to commit to closing.
"(The Latino population) is a vibrant part of the economic engine of the community," said Chris O'Reilly, a business partner of Mamula's. "We are supporting our staff members that are choosing to participate, and applaud any actions of peaceful protest. I hope some momentum comes from the movement and that their voices are heard."
Mamula declined to comment on the matter.
Reached Tuesday, several owners in other areas of the county said they were uninformed about the movement and did not plan to close Thursday.
Bobby Cato, owner of Frisco's Tavern West and Incline Bar & Grill at Copper Mountain, as well as various restaurants in the county for a quarter-century, said it was the first he'd heard of the walkout campaign. Although he said he stands behind anti-Trump protest efforts and immigrant populations, he did not expect the Thursday protest to impact his businesses.
"I probably wouldn't close," he said, "I've got obligations to the rest of my staff, 80 or 90 employees, and this is peak season. I haven't been approached about it, and we'll support it in other ways, but closing would be cutting off my nose to spite my face."
Similarly, none of the operators of The Bakers' Brewery in Silverthorne, Arapahoe Cafe and Pub in Dillon, nor Boatyard American Grill in Frisco were aware of the protest, and also did not plan to have their doors locked to customers Thursday.
"I don't think we will be affected," said Bonnie Pierce of Arapahoe Cafe. "We have an extremely loyal staff, and I haven't heard anything of it."
Alan Bullock, owner of Ollie's Pub & Grub in both Breckenridge and Frisco, was still undecided on how he'll approach Thursday. However, he said it is a subject being discussed by his employees.
"I haven't figured out any concrete information regarding the movement," said Bullock. "It seems like a Facebook post that's gone viral. I'm definitely in support of it. I feel immigrants have been put in a position to have to show the country that they are an important and vibrant part of our community and workplace, but as far as a decision, I'm not there yet."
Others like Motherloaded, though, have already made up their mind.
"I don't know how this is going to go," said Cain, "but I felt like it was something I needed to be a part of. What it comes down to is it's the only thing we can do financially at this point to support them in some way. And during the daylight hours when people are walking the streets, with possibly more people around walking around shopping than in eating at dinner, maybe it's a more captive audience."
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