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Sanctuary Restaurant Movement Continues to Gain Traction in Bay Area

There are now over 50 participating restaurants and counting

A press conference announcing the GGRA’s involvement in the sanctuary restaurant movement
A press conference announcing the GGRA’s involvement in the sanctuary restaurant movement
Jen Pelka/Instagram

San Francisco is perhaps the most visible and outspoken sanctuary city — a place that protects illegal immigrants — in America. And so it makes sense that this mindset has trickled down to the area’s businesses, restaurants included. For the past few months, various restaurants have been declaring themselves sanctuaries, meaning anyone and everyone is welcome.

Now the Bay Area restaurant advocate Golden Gate Restaurant Association is getting involved, announcing today in a press conference that it has joined the movement and will begin to formally educate its 1,000 member restaurants on what their immigrant employees’ and guests’ rights are. GGRA executive director Gwyneth Borden told the SF Examiner, “We already have a very tight labor market. We can’t afford to lose our workers. We also can’t afford to have people showing up for work fearful of being able to stay in this country.” Reportedly more than 30 percent of San Francisco’s restaurant workers are believed to be undocumented, making this an incredibly necessary cause for the local hospitality industry.

The Sanctuary Restaurant movement has firmly taken hold in the Bay Area, but it’s happening all across the country, with restaurants in Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Washington D.C., and beyond all taking part, too. Restaurant Opportunities Center is behind the (non-legal) initiative, which includes guidelines designed to protect restaurant workers from harassment and promote diverse workplaces and communities regardless of immigration status.

All a restaurant has to do to participate is declare its intent and practice the ideals, through placing a placard in the window and protecting immigrants. Though restaurants don’t have any legal authority (unlike sanctuary cities), an organizer told Eater Philly, that “it’s more about amplifying opposition to various moves and threats from the Trump administration, such as promises to crack down on illegal immigrants, or women’s access to abortion.”

Here’s a list of participating Bay Area restaurants so far:

San Francisco

LeBeau Deli
Bicycle Banh Mi
Marla Bakery
Firefly Restaurant
Wing Wings
Rice Paper Scissors
The Absinthe Group (Absinthe, Arlequin, Bellota, Boxing Room, Comstock Saloon)
Namu Gaji
Foundation Cafe
The Morris
Blue Plate
Little Skillet
Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio
The Cooking Project


Standard Fare
Saturn Cafe
Cancun Sabor Mexicano
Chez Panisse


Plum Bar
Cafe Gabriela
Homeroom Mac + Cheese
Nick’s Pizza
Juhu Beach Club
Chop Bar
Chop Bar
CommonWealth Cafe & Pub
Extreme Pizza


Cafe 4 Gatos


1100 Group


Rise Pizzeria

Santa Cruz

Chocolate the Restaurant
Saturn Cafe


Rio Grill
Tarpy’s Roadhouse
Montrio Bistro
Manifesto Cafe


Zazu Kitchen + farm


The Epicurean Connection

Menlo Park

Flea Street


Lola’s Chicken Shack