Rick Bayless, other businesses to close some locations Thursday to support immigrants

Chicago chef Rick Bayless plans to shut down four of his restaurants for the day on Thursday in a show of support for his immigrant workers.He is the most high-profile Chicago employer so far to participate in A Day Without Immigrants, meant to demonstrate...

Rick Bayless, other businesses to close some locations Thursday to support immigrants

Chicago chef Rick Bayless plans to shut down four of his restaurants for the day on Thursday in a show of support for his immigrant workers.

He is the most high-profile Chicago employer so far to participate in A Day Without Immigrants, meant to demonstrate the importance of immigrants by encouraging them to skip work.

Bayless said on his Facebook page Wednesday evening that Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco and Fonda Frontera would be closed Thursday out of respect for a staff vote to support the loosely organized campaign to protest the Trump administration's hard-line immigration stance.

Cruz Blanca and Lena Brava will remain open, with 10 percent of gross revenue headed to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Bayless said in a statement.

Pete's Fresh Market said on Facebook that it will show its support by closing several Chicago stores for the day: 5724 S. Kedzie Ave., 4700 S. Kedzie Ave., 4343 S. Pulaski Road, 5838 S. Pulaski Road and 2526 W. Cermak Road.

That was a reversal from a statement earlier Wednesday, in which the grocery chain disputed rumors of disciplinary actions against workers who didn't show up for shifts but said it would not close.

"While we are empathetic to this heightened political climate, we need to remain true to our core values and our ultimate goal of providing fresh food to our customers," Pete's had said in a Facebook post earlier in the day, before the closures were announced.

While most of the protest activity is expected to take place in the nation's capital, where the Washington Post reported numerous popular restaurants and even schools closing for the occasion, it has spread to several other cities. On social media, immigrants — those who are here legally and not — were encouraged to not go to work, open their businesses, shop online, eat in restaurants, buy gasoline, go to class and send their kids to school.

In Chicago, the workers center Arise plans an 11 a.m. rally Thursday in Union Park, said

Arise spokeswoman Shelly Ruzicka.

Another Chicago-area business that plans to close Thursday is El Palenque in Aurora, a store that sells Mexican goods.

Owner Efrain Corral said he got wind of the protests on Facebook and from calls from vendors and other stores asking if he would close. He decided to do so to support his mostly Mexican customer base and "so that they know that the U.S. is made by immigrants."

"We will feel it," he said of forgoing a day of business, "but we can handle it."

Jaime di Paulo, executive director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce, said he was getting numerous calls from business owners asking if they should close. He discouraged them from doing so, saying it will only hurt the community, where the vast majority of stores and customers are Hispanic.

"The position of the chamber is that this an opportunity to shop Mexican," he said. "Support your local Mexican businesses. Don't be a fool and lose money."

aelejalderuiz@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @alexiaer

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