Local restaurants support immigrant community, fight Trump’s executive order

Daniel Kim/Staff

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Multiple Bay Area businesses have responded to President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration executive order in the past few weeks.

The Berkeley-based Mexican restaurant Comal announced Friday that it will offer a special $15 taco bowl promotion each Monday and Tuesday throughout February and will donate the net proceeds to the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, a nonprofit committed to assisting refugees.

Comal’s executive chef Matt Gandin published a blog post Friday in which he announced the plan, explaining that the United States is full of immigrant stories.

“It is time to make a clear statement that our immigrant coworkers seek nothing more than what our ancestors sought, and nothing less than the opportunity that our nation, America, has always promised,” Gandin said in his post. “They are our sisters and brothers, our family, and we stand arms locked alongside them.”

According to Andrew Hoffman, an owner of Comal, the promotion symbolizes Comal’s support for its staff, roughly 50 percent of whom are first-generation immigrants.

“This is our way of participating in the resistance and showing solidarity with our staff,” Hoffman said.

1951 Coffee Company, a new Berkeley coffee shop that offers barista training to refugees and immigrants, has also made efforts to help the refugee community.

According to co-founders Doug Hewitt and Rachel Taber, 1951 has already become a meeting place for the community to learn about the struggles facing refugees and immigrants.

“The San Francisco Bay Area has been resettling refugees since approximately 1975 and there are (tens) of thousands of refugees in our community that still need new job skills and assistance in their resettlement,” Hewitt and Taber said in an email. “Any hypothetical change in the refugee program would only make our mission more important.”

Blue Bottle Coffee, Equator Coffees & Teas and Philz Coffee are also local coffee shops that joined about 450 brands in Sprudge’s Nationwide Coffee Fundraiser in support of the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to Vera Kachouh, content editor of Blue Bottle Coffee, all 31 Blue Bottle locations participated in the fundraiser by donating $1 for every coffee sold Feb. 4.

“To me cafes are a representation of the best of America,” said Devorah Freudiger, head of retail for Equator Coffees & Teas, in a press release Friday. “Everyone is welcome, and conversation is encouraged. Connecting with people of different ideologies is wonderful, and civil discourse is part of what makes our country fundamentally great.”

Sister Maureen Duignan, director of the East Bay Covenant, said more than 50 people a day are currently visiting their office for assistance.

“The policies outlined (in Trump’s administration) will not make our country more secure or just or free,” Duignan said. “They try to rob people of hope — especially the immigrant communities. They instill them with fear, and that’s the real problem.”

Contact Edward Booth at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Edward_E_Booth.