"Immigrants make America great (they also cooked your food and served you today)."
A diner shared this message—which they found printed on the bottom of the receipt they received at Kiwiana, a bistro in the Park Slope neighbourhood of Brooklyn run by New Zealand-born chef Mark Simmons—on Twitter. Now, the tiny but powerful note has gone viral.
The Kiwi chef and alum of season four of Top Chef has lived in the US for ten years. He said the message was a response to President Trump's controversial executive order regarding immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Simmons told MUNCHIES, "The note was just our way of trying to get the word out there. Kiwiana was created by an immigrant and hires immigrants. I want my staff and customers to feel welcome and unafraid. We started putting the note on the receipt after the executive order on immigration came about."
It was noticed and shared with the internet by journalist Mary Emily O'Hara, whose writing focuses on human rights and LGBTQ issues (including stories for VICE News), where it took off from her tweet.
Breakfast in Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/JHEtfJhqPO
— Mary Emily O'Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) February 5, 2017
Although some commenters from around the world were mostly just startled by the cost of O'Hara's slightly boozy brunch (welcome to Brooklyn, friends!), most lauded the restaurateur for his pro-immigrant stance. As of writing this, the tweet has 251,300 likes and 93,922 re-tweets.
— Unkle Louie (@Omerta440) February 6, 2017
— Gail (@mspress1958) February 5, 2017
— Stephen Fishbach (@stephenfishbach) February 5, 2017
When asked if any patrons or staff of Kiwiana had been harassed or exposed to hate since the election, Simmons told MUNCHIES, "We choose not to be fearful. I feel the need to protect my team, especially those who are concerned about the executive order." Simmons told WPIX that the restaurant's staff come from at least six countries, including China, Guatemala, Russia, and the Dominican Republic.
So far, Simmons says, customers have been "overwhelmingly supportive" of the move and he has no plans to remove the note.
Meanwhile, a federal circuit court in California will hear oral arguments today in the challenge to Trump's executive order on immigration. In addition to California, 15 other states have filed an amicus brief this week supporting Washington state's lawsuit against the executive order.
Should the order stand, restaurants across America may never be the same. Just a reminder.