We were curious when chef Benjy Mason (Down House) began promoting an idea on Facebook for a fundraiser (now called Dining for Democracy) to benefit the ACLU, an organization that has been especially busy the last three weeks: Because of the many, many immigrants who work in Houston’s restaurants and hotels, there has been a need for financial assistance for organizations – such as the ACLU – that have worked along with local immigration attorneys to assist people who are detained at Bush International Airport or simply have questions about their immigrant status. Many concerns come from legal immigrants working in Houston kitchens, who are integral to the success of our local hospitality industry.

Now, a fundraiser is officially under way and continuing to add restaurants to its roster of participants. Axelrad, Riel, Double Trouble, Poison Girl, Down House, Little Dipper, Big Star, Grand Prize, Kiran’s, Benjy’s and El Big Bad are some of the first to sign up as supporters of Dining for Democracy. To see the full list of participants, click here.

From the Dining from Democracy statement:

“…Many of the city’s top restaurants and bars will, from March 8 to March 22, offer a special fixed-price menu of at least three courses, priced between $20 and $60 dollars with 15% (pre-tax and pre-tip) from each prix fixe meal being donated to the ACLU of Texas. Bars will feature a special menu of 2-8 cocktails with 15% of the proceeds from sales of those drinks going to the ACLU of Texas.”


A Dining for Democracy representative sent the press release below and noted that restaurants and bars in the Houston area can email inquiries@diningfordemocracy.com before March 2 to sign up and participate. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

Dining for Democracy Press Release – February 16, 2017

A Houston Restaurant and Bar Fundraiser to Celebrate Houston’s Immigrants and Support the ACLU of Texas’ Efforts to Protect Immigrant Rights

Houston has enjoyed glowing national and international acclaim for the breathtaking diversity of its population and dining scene. It proudly wears the title of America’s most diverse city. From Houston’s earliest days, but especially during the past four decades, immigrants from all parts of the globe have driven Houston’s explosive economic and population growth and infused the city with spectacular dishes and flavors that have made the culinary scene the most exciting in the country. Immigrants have played key roles in every aspect of Houston’s diverse food scene, from farming, retailing, cooking, and waiting tables to being leading entrepreneurs. Houstonians have long embraced an ethos of unity and diversity.

But immigrants, including those that are lawful permanent residents [D1] [DS2] , as well as U.S. citizens with immigrant family members, are feeling threatened more than at any time in recent memory. Workplace raids have begun again and children go to school in fear that their parents won’t be home later. The vast majority of immigrants, including those working in restaurants throughout the Houston area, are hard-working, non-criminal, tax-paying contributors to the city’s stunning mosaic. The current climate of fear and intimidation does nothing to solve the tremendous complexities and shortcomings of our nation’s immigration laws.

Many in the Houston restaurant and bar industry, like many Houstonians, want to protect the rights of immigrants, just as we seek to protect of the rights of all Americans. We recognize that in our beautifully diverse city immigrant rights are our rights. We oppose the stream of proposed legislation and executive orders that threaten to undermine the safety and freedom of immigrants. Thus, to honor the contributions immigrants have made to Houston and our food scene, and to support efforts to protect the rights of the most vulnerable Houstonians, we invite everyone to dine and drink for democracy.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Lone Star State. The organization began their work in Texas protecting the free speech rights of workers during the San Antonio pecan Sheller strike of 1938. With their help, the shellers ultimately won their battle. Since then the ACLU of Texas has remained on the front lines of the fight for civil liberties and is dedicated to protecting the Constitutional and civil rights of all Texans, regardless of immigration status. In the wake of recent distressing changes in American immigration policies, No few organizations has done more to safeguard the liberties of immigrants.

Updated Tuesday, March 7, 2017.