77°Mostly Cloudy

Meridian Pint, Brookland Pint, Smoke & Barrel closing kitchens Thursday in “Solidarity with Immigrant Staff”

by Prince Of Petworth February 14, 2017 at 11:30 am 25 Comments


From John Andrade owner of Meridian Pint (11th and Park Rd, NW), Brookland Pint ( 716 Monroe St, NE), Smoke & Barrel (2471 18th St, NW):

“As a Latino business owner I stand in solidarity with all of my immigrant staff. Therefore, I will close all my kitchens this Thursday in support of their desire and right to protest the evolving state of immigration policies in our country. Our bars will remain open and our guests are welcome to BYOF (bring your own food.)”

  • asdf

    So will kitchen staff forgo/forfeit their usual wages that day, or will these establishments still pay the kitchen staff’s usual wages despite them being off premises protesting? It’d seem the former is a nice gesture, but the latter would be truly applause-worthy.

    • Soapbox Betty

      Staying open and getting through a normal dinner service without the majority of your cooks and support staff is going to be challenging enough. I think that paying those employees for work that wasn’t performed is over-the-top and suicidal to a business. Closing for the day makes the most sense, especially given the impact that it would have not just on owners and managers, but on diners as well.

      • Anonymous

        “getting through a normal dinner service without the majority of your cooks and support staff is going to be challenging enough”
        It’s not a normal dinner service. The kitchens are closed. Customers can bring their own food, bars are open as normal.

        • Soapbox Betty

          Sorry, I should have been more clear: I’m referring to restaurant owners in general (many of which will stay open and serve food), not these two in particular.

        • Frequent Eater

          I’d suspect a few of those places don’t have class A tavern licenses and need to sell food to legally be open, etc.

          Your bar is also dependent upon the bar backs and the dishwashers to keep serving.

      • boybert

        There will be no dinner service – the kitchens are closed. And drinks have higher margins than food so the real “suicidal move” would probably be the opposite one – kitchen open/bar closed.

      • asdf

        Well then, big applause to the kitchen staff who choose to participate in the protest, because I’d imagine forgoing/forfeiting those wages actually hurts.

        Most of these kitchen staff emigrated for economic reasons and can probably ill afford to leave wages on the table. So I’m curious about everybody’s motivations. Ditching work and wages seems more ballsy (no pun intended) to me than flying in on a long weekend to take Instagram selfies while wearing pink knit hats.

        Therefore it’d be super-magnanimous, and I’d certainly support any establishment, that paid their usual staff wages on the protest date.

        • MadMax

          In theory, sure, if this one protest actually changed something. But let’s be realistic and assume this administration isn’t just going to change overnight. Do you then as a business owner pay your employees to protest once a week, once a month, etc? I think the message these restaurants are sending is honestly some superficial BS, of course you’re closing your kitchen “in solidatary”, you ain’t got no workers, what choice do you really have? It’s like patting yourself on the back for putting pants on in the morning.

          • asdf

            Well, yeah, agreed. Seems sort of disingenuous.

            If we wanted to be really cynical we could say that kitchens are closing to spite the immigrant workers, like “Oh, you’re thinking of protesting? Well we’re closed that day anyway, and don’t expect any wages.” Either way, same effect – no wages.

            Frankly, I’m not sure why an immigrant kitchen worker would leave hourly wage-work to protest? Protest what? They’re here. They’ve got a job. Theoretically they’re happy in America. If anything, they should protest American employers who take advantage of cheap undocumented labor.

            I’ve worked in the food and service industries. My experience is that those dudes (and we’re talking Latino immigrants right?) work super hard, are glad they got in the door, and don’t want to rock the boat. Either way, I support their right to protest, not protest, work, not work, whatever. Thumbs up to free markets and free movement.

          • Anonymous

            “If we wanted to be really cynical we could say that kitchens are closing to spite the immigrant workers, like “Oh, you’re thinking of protesting?”

            The announcement suggests that the workers at these establishments expressed a desire to protest. (“I will close all my kitchens this Thursday in support of THEIR desire and right to protest …”) The owner appears to be accommodating that desire.

            “I’m not sure why an immigrant kitchen worker would leave hourly wage-work to protest? Protest what? They’re here. They’ve got a job.”

            I suspect they are protesting at least in part because of the prospect of being deported. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable to assume that some of these folks are not in the country legally, whatever one may think of that.

  • anon

    The strike makes sense, but only in the markets where you don’t have the support of the locals for immigrant workers.

    • MadMax

      Yeah but you could say that about virtually every protest so far against the administration. Do I really think they care about people in DC, NYC, Berkeley, etc protesting? No, not really, those people aren’t voting for him anyway. Let me know when people start protesting in Mississippi, West Virginia, and Oklahoma, then you might start to see some changes.

      • CapHillNative

        Protests in DC are definitely not about appealing to the locals. This is the seat of our country’s government. People travel to protest in DC, because ya know, laws are made here.

        • anon

          This isn’t a protest, it’s a strike meant to disrupt people’s lives and show them the importance of immigrant workers, if i understand it correctly. What I am saying is that if you are striking in Petworth you striking among the people that agree with you.

          • CapHillNative

            And the point I am making, is that strikes/protests are about calling attention to an issue on a large scale through collective action. Amplify the message through large scale action. Not about necessarily affecting the direct patrons/owners of that particular establishment. What if the strike wasn’t large and a business simply shipped in workers from a nearby area/sister restaurant? Not very effective right? Solidarity is important and its not always about you/us/locals :)

          • Anonymous

            1) Who says everyone, or even most people in Petworth agree on this issue?

            2) Why shouldn’t the people who agree with you be subject to some inconvenience too?

  • Halfsmoke

    This protest is going to be much bigger than anyone is talking about….most restaurants in DC will be affected IMO.

  • NE Mama

    I’m all for a strike. More power to them. As an immigrant owned small business we will remain open but our staff are free to strike and we support them. The ones on salary obviously still get compensated but the others are giving up their wages for the day. The business owners that basically have to close but are trying to spin it into a “we stand in solidarity so we will be closed” crack me up. Get over yourselves. Ha

    • J.

      Thank you!!! This seems so self serving. I would truly be in awe if he let them have the day off with pay. He clearly didn’t seem to think this thru.

  • Nancy

    If they’re closing & thus not paying their workers, isn’t that detrimental to the workers’ lives – more so than staying open on a day when workers (who can afford to) might be striking? As someone who lived on minimum wage once, I would have preferred the place staying open & getting that money than making a statement. Sometimes you’re just too pore to make a statement.

    • asdf

      That’s the point I’m trying to make. Motivations and intentions are a bit murky here. Are immigrant workers protesting Trump’s policies or the businesses themselves (including the restaurants) that have historically taken advantage of cheap and plentiful immigrant labor. If anything, Trump’s policies would theoretically help those immigrants already working here. Less inflow of cheap immigrant labor, less competition your boss could easily replace you with. Wages rise. etc. Are restaurants just trying to “save face” by claiming solidarity because of the possibility their workers will strike? Seems like they’re making the workers’ choice for them, which is not cool. In all cases, the immigrant workers lose wages.

    • Nancy

      And on my good days I actually know how to spell poor.

  • Eugene

    I am a proud staff member of Meridian Pint. Thanks John

  • Anon

    Word is Bad Saint will close as well. I imagine a LOT of DC restaurants will close or be affected.

  • Anon

    If there was a food and beverage union, the staff striking would get paid from the union funds. Small business owners are not unions.


Subscribe to our mailing list