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More Than 50 Chicago Restaurants, Including Rick Bayless’, Closed For Immigration Strike

Acadia, L’Patron, Ixcateco and Handlebar are on the list

anselmo ramirez
Anselmo Ramirez has closed Ixcateco Grill for the day.
Ashok Selvam
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Many of Chicago’s restaurants are standing in solidarity with their workers for today’s immigrant strike by either closing or allowing excused absences with pay for participants. Last night, Rick Bayless announced four of his Chicago restaurants—Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco, and Fonda Frontera—would close on Thursday.

“We believe lasting change is achieved incrementally, and if you can’t participate, we encourage you make contributions to groups working to make lasting change,” Bayless wrote, adding that his West Loop restaurant Leña Brava and the attached brewpub, Cruz Blanca, would remain open on Thursday with 10 percent of sales donated to Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Much of the restaurant world has been on edge since Inauguration Day, as the industry depends on immigrants. There’s been talk of racially-motivated immigration raids in major cities, which have the potential of crippling businesses. Today’s labor action mostly involves Latinos, pushing back with protest after the federal government imposed travel restrictions against immigrants, even those who possessed Green Cards.

While Bayless elected to close most of his restaurants, other restaurateurs are staying open and encouraging workers to take the day off as protest. Fernando Mendoza, kitchen manager for eight years at Piece Pizza in Wicker Park, isn’t coming into work today along with the 25 or so members of the kitchen staff. While Mendoza was born and raised in Chicago, his immigration story comes from his Mexican parents. His mother came to America when she was 16.

“Immigration affects all people, especially in the food industry—from picking the crops to serving the food on the plate,” Mendoza said. “We’re the backbone.”

Restaurants with workers and food from across the world are participating in today’s strike. Kabul House in suburban Skokie represents Afghanistan. Eataly Chicago made a Facebook post, referencing the importance of being a company born from Italian immigrants. Acadia will be also be closed on Thursday in the South Loop, as Ryan McCaskey—who hails from Saigon—made an impassioned statement. He’s even using the Rebels logo from the Star Wars movies, a symbol of resistance, as his avatar.

In solidarity with the many immigrants who've come to America searching for a better life, and opportunity, Acadia will...

Posted by Ryan McCaskey on 15hb Februari 2017

Anslemo Ramírez, an immigrant from Mexico who worked with Bayless, has closed Ixcateco Grill for the day in Albany Park. Another member Bayless alum, Ernesto Gonzalez of Logan Square taqueria L’Patron, also will observe the strike with his family.

Chains are also affected. Nando’s Peri Peri, which has roots in South Africa, has kept its Chicago locations open, but they said publicly that they support their workers’ participations, which sounds like they’ll pay their employees if they miss work to protest.

It’s important to Mendoza to show America, particularly those who support President Trump’s policies, how valuable immigrants are to the country. While supporters of stiffer laws point to the need to curtail undocumented immigrants, all immigrants feel the accusatory glares.

“My mother’s never committed a crime, she’s never stolen anything. She’s now a citizen and she’s not the immigrant that Trump portrays everybody to be,” Mendoza said.

Here are other restaurants that are participating in the strike and will be closed for the day. If any other restaurants need to be added, let us know in the comments. Other protests are occurring all across the U.S.


2311 West North Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 384-9546 Visit Website

Del Sur

914 Union Street, , LA 70112 (504) 603-2442 Visit Website

Piece Brewery and Pizzeria

1927 West North Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 772-4422 Visit Website

Ixcateco Grill

3402 West Montrose Avenue, , IL 60641 Visit Website

Kabul House

4949 Oakton St, Skokie, IL 60077 (847) 674-3830 Visit Website

The Kitchen, by Cooking with Que

6529 Woodward Avenue, , MI 48202 (313) 462-4184 Visit Website

La Vaca Margarita Bar

1160 West 18th Street, , IL 60608 (312) 829-1147 Visit Website

Eataly Chicago

43 East Ohio Street, , IL 60611 (312) 521-8700 Visit Website


1639 South Wabash Avenue, , IL 60616 (312) 360-9500 Visit Website

Blind Faith Cafe

525 Dempster St, Evanston, IL 60201 (847) 328-6875 Visit Website


445 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 661-1434 Visit Website


1471 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (872) 829-3821 Visit Website

Cruz Blanca

904 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-1975 Visit Website