Community Development / Noted

Melrose Park Restaurant Closes in Honor of ‘A Day Without Immigrants’

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Los Comales in Melrose Park closed on Thursday as a show of solidarity with immigrants throughout the country. | Google Earth || Below, signs indicating the restaurant’s closure. | Los Comales/Facebook 

Melrose Park restaurant II.pngFriday, February 17, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 6:54 p.m. 

President Donald J. Trump’s recent immigration policies and public declarations have provoked a reaction among local governments and activists nationwide, with many village, cities and school districts assessing ways that they can defy the new president’s increasing hostility toward immigrant populations.

Now, restaurants are getting in on the act. According to a Feb. 16 report in the Daily Herald, hundreds of businesses across the country opted to close their doors on Thursday as a show of support for immigrants.

In lieu of work, some of those with the day off marched. A group of around 1,000 people demonstrated in the Loop yesterday.

Among the restaurants closed for the day was Los Comales, located at 2110 West Lake St. in Melrose Park.

In a phone interview on Friday, owner David Suarez said that he closed the chain’s Melrose Park and Elgin locations in order to show solidarity with his workers and with the communities in which his restaurants are located.

“On Tuesday, I spoke to my father about what we wanted to do and we both decided we wanted to be part of the protest,” said Suarez, whose father, Sergio — the restaurant’s founder — immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was a teenager.

Suarez said that the fear among his employees and patrons is palpable, with many feeling helpless in the face of the new president’s onslaught of executive actions and policy declarations. Suarez added that Trump’s offensive presidential campaign still lingers with him.

“When Trump started his campaign, he came right off of the back [offending people], saying that Mexicans are rapists [and making other claims],” he said. “That really offended people like my father, who came here and isn’t taking people’s jobs. My dad employs people.”

And Trump hasn’t changed his tone, Suarez said, making the decision to stand in solidarity with his workers and community members easy despite the definite financial loss that might result from it.

“We told our employees we support their right to protest and we think they have a valid argument,” he said. “Its never easy to close your doors. We definitely lost money, but our employees said we’re willing to lose a day of work because we believe in this.” VFP

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