D.C. Restaurants Donate Their Dollars And Dishes To Support Black Lives Matter

by Michelle Brown

Local restaurants witnessing history in the making chip in to support Campaign Zero, Black Lives Matter DC and the movement against police brutality

As streets brim with protesters and hearts ache across the District, actors from all corners of the D.C. community have mobilized to show solidarity and offer their contributions. Local restaurants in particular have added their voices to the mix of cries for justice for George Floyd with dine-to-donate commitments and support both to related organizations and the protesters themselves. Hit hard by the pandemic as they have experienced closures abound and witnessed their enthusiastic clientele dissipate, these eateries are but a few of many which have channeled their persevering spirit into the greater social movement of Black Lives Matter.

Today, for example, Adams Morgan’s eccentrically-named Tail Up Goat is donating 100% of dinner sales, service fees and beverage proceeds to Campaign Zero, an organization calling for specific policy proposals in response to police brutality with a ten-point plan for police reform. 

Tail Up Goat is not alone in its dine-to-donate support for the organization formed by Black Lives Matter activists in 2015; the trendy tapas spot Estadio has been donating to Campaign Zero, in addition to Innocence Project, Black Vision Collective and Black Lives Matter DC after providing free meals to protesters last week. And last Friday, Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream, known for such creative homemade concoctions as “New England Cornmeal Pudding,” donated all of the day’s revenue to Campaign Zero as well as The Marsha P. Johnson Institute. The institute works to protect the rights of Black transgender people. Explaining Mt. Desert Island’s involvement with the cause, co-owner Brian Lowit asserted unequivocally, “These issues are too important to not get involved.”

The determined initiatives of Campaign Zero in particular resonated with many restaurateurs seeking reform, including the team at Punjab Grill, a dining spot which is new to D.C. though firmly committed to the community of its new home. When the grill reignited on Monday after a week-long closure in response to the protests, marketing manager Megan Cruz explained, “We felt we couldn’t [reopen] without becoming a part of this movement that has captivated the world… Black lives matter, and that shouldn’t be up for debate.” 

Punjab Grill committed half of proceeds from sales on Monday to Campaign Zero with the message on Instagram: “We want to take this opportunity to make it clear that we believe BLACK LIVES MATTER.” Cognizant of the need for “regulatory efforts to ensure accountability,” the grill is continuing to consider ways to “keep the momentum going” to ensure that their contribution does not stop there, according to Cruz. 

Black Lives Matter DC, in addition to Campaign Zero, has received widespread support from restaurant owners using the resources afforded to them by their businesses. After a successful donation of supplies to protesters last week, Beuchert’s Saloon continues to raise money through a portion of menu sales to Black Lives Matter DC, though is currently considering where else they might donate. The saloon’s decorated windows with signs reading “Protestors Welcome,” “Justice for George” and “No Justice No Peace” affirmed its allyship on Saturday when they provided their bathrooms, outlets to charge phones, ice water, sandwiches, snacks, masks, gloves and sanitizer to protesters.

Beuchert’s is collaborating with Black-owned businesses including a distillery and winery to offer specialty cocktails and wines from which a portion of sales will be donated. Presently, ten percent of sales of its featured prime rib dinner and five dollars from each sale of a “BLM” cocktail are being donated. Soon, additional dine-to-donate options will include two wines from a Black-owned winery. Beuchert’s chef and owner Andrew Markert resolutely stressed that Beuchert’s is “more than a restaurant.” 

“We are part of a community, we are neighbors, and we are humans hurting for a change. We didn’t have to think about getting involved, we just did, because it’s what needs to be done, by doing anything we can. It’s the human thing to do,” Markert explained.

The supply tent organized by Morgan Stana of Friends & Family Meal this past weekend, supplied with help from Erin Lingle and her restaurant Mola

Also involved with Black Lives Matter DC is Erin Lingle, co-owner of Mola, whose Spanish fare earned the designation of Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide. Like Markert, Lingle could not ignore the transformation occurring in the community. Lingle explained her involvement, “My partner (McCealaig O’Clisham) and I don’t consider fighting for human rights to be a political statement, it’s just the right thing to do.” 

Mola has pledged a portion of its June proceeds to Black Lives Matter DC, on top of its resolute efforts to provide immediate help to protesters in the form of “supply drops,” with the combined help of neighbors, friends and other businesses. Last Thursday’s first supply drop included “water, snacks, baking soda, gloves, masks, & sanitizer,” provided mostly by Mola but with the help of some donations from some of Mola’s neighbors in Mt. Pleasant. 

Last Saturday’s second supply drop saw Mola combine forces with many other locals to expand on their Thursday mission. With the combined efforts of local artist Robin Bell, Elle & Each Peach Market, the non-profit Friends & Family Meal founded by Mike Alves and Morgan Stana — who is also the Riggs Hotel bar manager and helped to obtain a tent for the group — and of course, energetic local volunteers, the team organized a donation of 1,200 sandwiches and a tent set up with “sandwiches, water, gatorade, snacks, first aid kits, sanitizer, masks, sunscreen tampons and anything that someone might need outside on a super hot day,” according to Lingle.

As Lingle, like so many others, continues her discussions with a team of local businesses on how to sustain their support for the protests, she has been pleased to witness the changes ushered in by the movement. Even so, she pragmatically affirms — “there is still a long way to go.”

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