Why is your favorite restaurant closed today? #daywithoutimmigrants

Restaurants closed for a nationwide strike on "Day WIthout Immigrants", with some in Sonoma County

Note: This is an evolving story, and will be updated throughout the day. #daywithoutimmigrants

The normally bustling taquerias and mercados of Sebastopol Road are silent today. Parking lots stand empty at familiar spots like Lola’s Market, La Fondita, El Favorito and Frozen Art, along with many other businesses in this predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. Posted on doors and windows are hand-written signs saying, “We are joining A Day Without Immigrants and are closed today,” or “Dear clients in support of all nationalities we will be closed.”

This pocket of the county is far from alone. Throughout Sonoma County restaurants, bars, wineries and other businesses have gone dark during a nationwide strike designed to call attention to the contributions of foreign-born citizens. The campaign, which gained traction on social media, urges US immigrants not to go to work or school, or make purchases on Feb. 17  in a show of solidarity against the Trump administration’s strong stance on illegal immigration.


Restaurants are one of the largest employers of immigrants, making eateries nationwide a focal point of the strike.

“My staff and I are in a support of “Day without immigrants,” said Teresita Fernandez, owner of La Michoacana in Boyes Hot Springs. “Please share and spread the word. Together we can make a difference.”

“It’s a small price to pay,” Fernandez told The Press Democrat. “The people who are facing deportation — who shouldn’t be deported — are the ones who are suffering. Losing a day of income isn’t going to change my world.”

Many other businesses in the area are also closed today, some by choice and others by default as immigrant workers honor the strike .

“In support of our family, friends and co-workers, we will be closed tomorrow, Thursday, February 16,” said The Breakaway Cafe’s Facebook page. “This was actually prompted by the staff, we are supporting their decision not to work,” said owners.

In Santa Rosa, Vietnamese restaurant Simply Vietnam was also closed, with a simple sign saying that they’d had an “employee shortage.”


Other local restaurateurs and food businesses supporting the strike spoke out on social media to BiteClub:

  • Bear Republic (Healdsburg): “In support of our staff and in solidarity with the Day without Immigrants, Bear Republic’s kitchen will be closed today.”
  • “My warehouse staff is striking but they checked with me to make sure it was ok. I told them that’s not the real point of demonstrating, but, yes, I thought it was cool,” Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Foods in Napa.
  • Gaia’s Garden is open, but we’ve adjusted our shopping so that we’re not shopping on Friday (our usual day). And encouraging customers to pay cash if possible. We can’t afford to close, and our employees need the money. For a general strike to work, it needs a huge buy-in, and a run-up similar to the women’s March, which this doesn’t have. But we’re doing what we can,” Susan Church, Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa.
  • Zazu Restaurant + Farm is taking a different approach. “Fight back by building livelihoods,” said co-owner Duskie Estes. Her Barlow eatery will donate 1 percent of the day’s proceeds to La Cocina in San Francisco, a food business incubator that works with immigrants, women, and people of color.
  • Valette: We are all immigrants to this country, just some have been here longer than others,” said Dustin Valette, chef/owner of Valette restaurant in Healdsburg. The restaurant is donating 1 percent of sales to La Cocina tonight.
  • Glen Ellen Star: We are donating 50% of all of our sales tonight to La Luz in Sonoma to help protest federal immigration policies. Visit www.laluzcenter.org for more information on this incredible organization and how they help immigrants succeed in Sonoma Valley. #glenellenstar
  • Also closed, La Texanita, El Brinquito, all Fruta locations.
  • McDonalds in Windsor, Cloverdale and Healdsburg.
  • Cocina Peruana (Petaluma): Closed.

Reactions to the closures, not surprisingly, were mixed. While many supporters of the strike have responded to the closures in good humor, saying that they’ll make sure to return this weekend, a closure sign on the Healdsburg McDonald’s was defaced with derogatory slang, and other restaurant websites have received their share of frustration with the closures.

Celebrity chefs including Jose Andres are also joining the strike, closing their high-profile Washington, D.C. and New York eateries today, and reports of many McDonald’s being closed are filtering into the media…

Though the strike has no official organizer, the Si Se Puede Facebook page states, “In cities across the country, on February 16th, immigrants are not going to work, their kids are not going to school, they are boycotting all stores that exploit undocumented immigrants.  They are going out to the streets to say, we’re here and we’re not going anywhere, we’re here because we belong here, we’re here because we make this country run and operate.” The group organized a march in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania this morning. And we just couldn’t resist this one…