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The Restaurant Industry Is Taking Strong Action On International Women’s Day


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This year, International Women’s Day — a holiday celebrating the achievements of women as well as pushing for more parity, gender inclusivity, and “a better working world” — is more important than ever. That’s because today, women around the country are taking a stand by not going to work (if possible), wearing red, and shopping only at women and minority-owned businesses to remind us that women are an important part of our society and our economy.

While some have criticized the demonstration already — do yourself a favor and skip the ‘WhileTheFeministsAreAway’ hashtag — many business owners (and some school districts) are standing in solidarity with the strike, the same way that so many stood with their employees during the ‘Day Without An Immigrant‘ protest last month. The strike is targeting all lines of work, and all types of businesses, but there’s one area where consumers may feel the impact of the protest the most: at the diners, pubs, and bakeries where they enjoy their lunches and dinners every day.

Around the country, restaurants are finding ways to support their female employees by offering them paid leave or running specials that fundraise for important women-centered organizations. In D.C., for instance, Ruth Gresser, the owner of Pizzeria Paradiso and Veloce, has planned to take action in solidarity with the demonstration for several weeks.

From The Washingtonian:

The veteran restaurateur, who recently celebrated her flagship’s 25th year in DC, is offering paid leave to all female employees at her four eateries. She spent weeks with her team figuring out the best approach for the business, and rearranging shifts with male employees so the eateries can remain open. Only half the food and beverage menus will be served—a symbolic number that represents half the world’s female population—with partial proceeds going to My Sister’s Place, which supports survivors of domestic abuse, and the National Organization for Women.

Gresser’s voice is one of many. In New York, Grub Street reports, Anita Lo, owner of Annisa, is donating the proceeds from a special cocktail and appetizer to Off The Sidelines (an organization that helps women run for office). Other restaurateurs are following suit, with some donating proceeds from specialty food and drinks to non-profits including Planned Parenthood, and others, like Mark Gibson, owner of The Wren, are letting women have paid time off to go to the rally and asking male employees (who’ll be covering their shifts) to wear red.

If you’re feeling especially passionate and political today, you might want to stop by Nourish Kitchen & Table, where owner Marissa Lippert is offering “Watergate Cake with Impeachment Frosting.” It’s for a good cause. A portion of the sales will be donated to the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement.

But New York and D.C. are from from the only cities taking part in the strike. In Detroit, eateries including Cairo Coffee and Sister Pie are closing their doors. On its Instagram, Sister Pie posted that people who are missing out on their desserts today should consider donating the money to a local non-profit that benefits girls. And at Rose’s Fine Food, Eater reports, women will be “taking a step back” while men handle the diner’s business.

In Boston, The Naumkeaug Ordinary, The Ugly Mug Diner, and Violette Gluten-Free will be closed. Basil Tree Catering and Cafe will be donating half its cafe proceeds to Planned Parenthood and Belly Wine Bar will be launching an all-women list of winemakers and donating 10 percent of “by the glass” sales to a new organization each week for the next eight weeks. If you’re in San Francisco, you can check out a list of places that will be standing in solidarity HERE.

Things will return to business as usual tomorrow. Today, however, it’s important to remember the progress women have made and stand with them as they continue fighting for equality, equality in the workplace, and reproductive rights. As the owners of The Naumkeaug ordinary put it, “Today is a day for reflection & action; observation & questioning. Today we must commit to doing better so that tomorrow dawns brighter, safer, and more free for us, our mothers, sisters, and daughters.”

Are restaurants (and other businesses) in your city offering specials or events for International Women’s Day/A Day Without A Woman? Let us know in the comments.
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