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Popular Arab-Owned DC Restaurant to Close 6 Locations for #DayWithoutImmigrants

posted on: Feb 15, 2017

Andy Shallal stands in one of his Busboys and Poets locations in Washington, DC.

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer

Buzzing throughout social media is talk of #DayWithoutImmigrants. Latino immigrants across Washington, DC are preparing to close their restaurants, skip work, keep the kids home from school, and refrain from purchasing any goods on Thursday, February 16.

The campaign is aimed at showing their economic power and protesting President Trump’s policies on immigration and refugees. Latinx workers started the initiative in Milwaukee on Monday, when hundreds of employees and school children skipped work and class. Now, Washington, DC businesses are joining the protest.

Already, many stores and restaurants owned by Latin, South Asian, and Arab immigrants have posted signs on their doors announcing their closure for Thursday. One prominent restaurant participating in #DayWithoutImmigrants is Busboys and Poets, a progressive restaurant known for its bookstores, performance spaces, and social justice theme.

Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal told the Washington Post that he is closing all six of his locations throughout the DC area on Thursday. He said the closures will be a “huge financial hit,” but that it’s an important stance to take. Shallal is giving all of his employees paid time off for the strike.

As an immigrant and business owner, Shallal said, “I am in a position of power, and I realize that, and I am able to do this and I can be in solidarity with my staff.”

Another DC restaurant shutting down on Thursday is Zaytinya, a Mediterranean eatery with an extensive menu bearing both English and Arabic items. Zaytinya is owned and operated by celebrity chef José Andrés, an immigrant from Spain. The chef will close five of his restaurants in solidarity with the movement.

Many other restaurants throughout the Washington, DC metro area will close on Thursday, ensuring that residents and tourists will feel their economic impact. Some restaurants are staying open, but offering limited menus because they will be short-staffed.

The #DayWithoutImmigrants comes shortly after the Yemeni bodega strike in New York, where hundreds of Yemeni Americans protested Trump’s ban on immigration from their home country. Dozens of Yemeni-owned bodegas throughout New York closed their doors for a day, many for the first time ever.