Immigrant Business Spotlight: Immigrant Food

Blog by LSSNCA guest blogger, Harley Dority

At the intersection of public policy, social justice, and food comes a unique dining experience in the heart of Downtown Washington, D.C. It’s a little place just one block over from the White House called Immigrant Food

In response to the deeply damaging rhetoric and policy decisions coming from the previous administration, co-owners Peter, Enrique, and Tea decided they wanted to do more than write opinion pieces in response to the intolerant stances on immigration seen at the highest levels of government and across the US. They wanted to combine the efforts of advocacy and policy work with a casual dining restaurant that highlights the talent of immigrants around the world.

Thus Immigrant Food was opened in November 2019 as a “cause-casual” restaurant with a focus on gastro-advocacy. Aside from creating and offering incredible food to customers, they wanted to make sure their mission was reflected in everything they did. This was done by partnering with local NGOs that focus on supporting immigrants and equipping people in the DC metro area with tools to advocate for positive change. 

Immigrant Food started by partnering with five local organizations, offering their upstairs space for training and meetings. They also wanted to offer patrons a way to engage with these organizations through volunteering. Next to their food menu, one can find an engagement menu that lists all of the ways people can get involved in the work. When COVID-19 meant they had to shift to virtual engagement, Immigrant Food decided to send out a weekly newsletter that provides five opportunities to engage and educate individuals on all things immigration in order to combat the misinformation running rampant around the country.

They took this even further, creating the Think Table. Large think tanks exist to research and provide information on topics that affect all of us, yet the dissemination of this information is not always accessible to everyone. Through the Think Table, Immigrant Food tackles one topic a month on immigration. Topics range from DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), asylum seekers, immigrant voters, the Biden Administration’s immigration policy, and more in five minute videos that are easily accessible and informative.

When it comes to the food, creativity is king. The core focus is on celebrating immigrant contributions to food in America. The talented kitchen team works together to fuse cuisines that reflect the lived experiences of people that migrate around the world. There isn’t a focus on one type of food; instead, the fresh and inviting creations that come out of the restaurant serve as a reflection of what they believe America to be at its core – diverse, nourishing, and welcoming.

While COVID-19 has greatly impacted the restaurant industry in DC, Immigrant Food is going strong. They’re offering delivery and takeout Tuesday through Saturday and welcome you to engage with them at their Pennsylvania Ave location, through the weekly newsletter, and on social media. If you love vibrant and fresh ingredients, a welcoming environment, and a business that believes in the celebration of immigrant contributions, DC’s first cause-casual restaurant is worth a try.

This blog was made possible thanks to the help of Téa Ivanovic, the Director of Communications and Outreach with Immigrant Food. Téa pulls the strings behind the amazing social media and marketing initiatives of Immigrant Food and has been a wonderful asset to the iFood family. Born in Belgium to parents from the former Yugoslavia and recruited to play D1 Varsity tennis at Virginia Tech, Téa considers herself an immigrant squared and speaks Serbian, Flemish AND English! Before joining the iFood team, she worked in strategic communications for international policy and politics and is the first Washington Correspondent for Oslobodjenje, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s oldest newspaper and leading news outlet in the Western Balkans! She’s well versed in the communications department in various industries and has made iFood what it is today.

For more information on how to hire LSSNCA refugee and immigrant clients visit our website and fill out our employment inquiry form. If you are a refugee, SIV holder, asylee, or protected status immigrant living in Maryland or Virginia and are within 5 years of arrival/status provision and you need help finding employment, check out LSSNCA’s workforce development program.

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