On Tuesday, people were invited to participate in #BlackoutTuesday, blacking out all promotions and content that didn’t further the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement or address ongoing protests against the recent death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
On Instagram, #BlackoutTuesday presented as a black square with the hashtag and on Twitter, either a photo or simply the hashtag. Those in the restaurant operators saw #BlackoutTuesday as an opportunity to join in the national conversation about race and justice, vent their own emotions or rally support for the movement.
Political unrest has also led chefs have to share their own personal experiences with racism.
“The helicopters are gone. But I can’t relax. I am exhausted, and all the sunshine and loveliness of the day are a mockery,” wrote Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery on Twitter about being a black man in born and raised in NYC.
Marcus Samuelsson, chef-owner of Rooster in Harlem, a neighborhood in NYC, has already been working with Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen to donate food to restaurant workers and other community members who are in need. As one of the few famous chefs of color, Samuelsson knew he had to speak up.
He not only attended the peaceful protests over the weekend in Harlem,
but he spoke with The Economist’s podcast, The Economist Asks, on what it’s been like to “fight for the restaurant/hospitality community in economically disadvantaged areas, feeding frontline healthcare workers and our neighbors in need, and also the overt racism and police brutality that continues to persist in America.”
Chef Kevin Gillespie took to Instagram to write about the racism he has inadvertently propagated in the past saying, “I am guilty of racism. Not because I wanted to be, and not because I intended to be, but because I haven’t tried hard enough to recognize everywhere it exists.”
Many more chefs and restaurateurs spoke up, from Geoffrey Zakarian
to David Chang
to Danny Meyer
Because of the publicity and outrage, some restaurant companies have made changes to policies. &pizza is now providing employees paid time off for activism,
and momofoku announced its NYC restaurant would reopen as a donation-based to-go restaurant where every dollar would go to charities furthering the BLM movement.
The National Restaurant Association also put out a statement about the movement and provided a link to its affiliate, the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, as a resource for operators.
In Santa Monica, Calif., Socalo had its windows and doors smashed by looters, but the restaurant by chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger took to social media to show support for protesters and the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Omaha, Neb., Block 16 acknowledged that “a lot has transpired over the past week” but they “want to provide a sense of normalcy to those who need it” along with a photograph of the restaurant’s fried chicken sandwich.
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