As protests and unrest took over Philadelphia for three days, many restaurants, including some located in the center of the action, took to social media to stand in solidarity with protesters and repeat the message: black lives matter.
The protests, part of a nationwide response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, started calmly in Center City on Saturday, May 30, but later turned violent and spread into other parts of the city, with people vandalizing and looting businesses. Police arrested hundreds and tear-gassed protesters, even those acting peacefully.
The city instituted an 8 p.m. curfew Saturday night, followed by 6 p.m. curfews on Sunday and Monday. Restaurants were forced to close early, all amid a pandemic that’s been devastating local businesses for the last 10 weeks. Because of COVID-19, restaurants in Philly are still limited to takeout and delivery and struggling to stay afloat, while thousands of workers are out of jobs.
A curfew is in effect for Tuesday, Election Day, starting at 8:30 p.m. after polls close.
On Tuesday, Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook, whose CookNSolo group includes several of the most popular restaurants in Philly, joined other local venues in pledging donations to justice funds. They announced via email and social media that 100 percent of the net proceeds from their restaurants this week are going to Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity.
Middle Child encouraged people to donate to Reclaim the Block, a Minneapolis organization working to move money from the police department to other areas that promote community health and safety. “We’re shutting down MidKid today for the safety of our employees and in solidarity of the situation,” the sandwich shop posted on Sunday.
In Rittenhouse, Spice Finch, from Top Chef’s Jennifer Carroll and Billy Riddle, posted a message in support of Black Lives Matter: “We stand committed to amplifying the voices of our Black colleagues and working alongside them to dismantle systemic racism in the restaurant industry and in our communities,” it reads in part. Carroll also used Instagram to highlight funds like the Minnesota Freedom Fund and the George Floyd Memorial Fund. Korean restaurant Crunchik’n posted the same image of funds and noted it was donating to the Philly Community Bail Fund.
At El Merkury, one of the front windows was broken, the tablets used for orders were taken, and the restaurant was trashed, says owner Sofia Deleon. But Deleon and her team still showed up on Saturday and Monday to cook and deliver meals for the Sunday Love Project, Kensington Respite, Chosen Ministries, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania through World Central Kitchen and Off Their Plate, two organizations that have been purchasing meals from restaurants for hospital workers and those in need during the coronavirus crisis. “It’s dark in here, we’re boarded up, windows missing — but all still working as hard as ever. Feel extremely fortunate to work with an amazing group of people that gets shit done regardless,” Deleon posted on Instagram. In describing the damage to Eater, Deleon focused on the positive: “It could have definitely been worse and most importantly no person was harmed.”
East Passyunk Avenue ice cream shop D’Emilio’s kicked off a fundraiser for neighboring business Kicks and Fashion, owned by Dru Major. The store’s windows were smashed. D’Emilio’s donated 50 percent of its Sunday proceeds to Major.
We all must speak up for what we know is right and just, as we must speak up when we know something is wrong and unjust,” posted South, the restaurant and jazz club on North Broad.
Local chain ReAnimator Coffee donated 100 percent of its sales from Sunday to the Philadelphia Bail Fund and Black Lives Matter. The cafes were closed Monday but staff was paid, ReAnimator noted.
In West Philly, Booker’s wrote “Change does not happen without the entire community. We all have to participate the make the impact at all levels!”
Ari Miller of Musi BYOB sold some of his coveted “frizwit” cheesesteaks on Monday for $50 each, with the money going to the Philly Community Bail Fund.
Italian restaurant Le Virtu, whose owners are known to support immigrant causes, posted “We support the protest. We believe in equality, justice, and the dignity of human life. Our responsibilities here are clear.” The restaurant noted it donated to Black Lives Matter Philly and asked others to do the same.
In Rittenhouse, Friday Saturday Sunday shared a strong message calling for change.