Several area restaurants, including Wood-n-Tap, close Thursday to support immigrant workers

Several area restaurants, including Wood-n-Tap, close Thursday to support immigrant workers

Record-Journal


Several restaurants across the state and nation, including Tacos Mi Nacho in Meriden and Wood-n-Tap in Southington and Wallingford, were closed Thursday to participate in a protest to support immigrants.

Hartford Restaurant Group owns 10 Wood-n-Tap locations in the state. Signs on the doors of restaurants in Southington, Wallingford, Hamden and seven other locations told patrons they’d be closed for the day.

“Many of our staff felt very strongly about the movement,” said Jennifer Lamantini, guest services director for Hartford Restaurant Group. “We wanted to support them in their decision to do that.”

Lamantini said the group didn’t want to operate restaurants on a reduced staff and instead made Thursday a cleaning and organizing day for employees who wanted to come in to work.

Tacos Mi Macho on Broad Street in Meriden was closed for the day, as was El Amigo on North Colony Road in Wallingford. A note on the window of El Amigo said the closure was in support of “all the immigrants in this country.”

The work boycott was aimed at President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on immigration, legal and illegal, by such means as a wall at the Mexican border. Organizers said they expected thousands to participate or show support. Activities also included rallies in several cities across the country.

Lamantini said Hartford Restaurant Group, which also owns Agave Grill in Hartford, doesn’t employ undocumented immigrants but wanted to give employees, immigrants or not, an opportunity to join in the protest.

“That’s not what this is about,” she said. “We did what we felt was the right thing to do this morning.”

Since the end of 2007, the number of foreign-born workers employed in the U.S. has climbed by nearly 3.1 million to 25.9 million; they account for 56 percent of the increase in U.S. employment over that period, according to the Labor Department.

The foreign-born — who include American citizens, green card holders and those working without legal authorization — tend to be younger and take jobs in fields like restaurants, hotels and retail.

Roughly 12 million people are employed in the restaurant industry, and immigrants make up the majority — up to 70 percent in places like New York and Chicago, according to the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which works to improve working conditions. An estimated 1.3 million in the industry are immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, the group said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

jbuchanan@recordjournal.com 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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