The president of Union Square Hospitality Group is urging restaurant industry leaders to speak out against gun violence and act in support of gun reform.
In a post this week on the restaurant company’s website, Chip Wade cited the recent grocery store shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., and the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, as events that moved him and USHG to urge the industry to push for tougher gun laws. A total of 32 people, many of them children, were slain in the two attacks.
“This past Memorial Day weekend, we were supposed to honor those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Wade wrote. “Instead, we mourned the lives not just of our soldiers, but of our children. We felt pain and frustration and rage for lives gunned down not only on the battlefield, but in our schools. Again. Again and again and again.”
Wade said USHG will commit to donating $50,000 toward gun safety. The New York City-based, Danny Meyer-led company, which runs Gramercy Tavern, Daily Provisions, Union Square Café and many more, will also convene forums on gun violence for employees and others, rally company workers to attend an anti-violence march this month and withhold any support from politicians who oppose gun safety legislation, Wade said.
“Nothing will change as long as Congress doesn’t act,” Wade said, noting that he’s a registered Republican. “Our elected officials perform moral outrage in place of offering courageous leadership.”
Gun reform should not be a political issue, though, he said. It’s an issue of humanity and dignity—pillars of the hospitality industry.
“That’s why I believe the hospitality and restaurant industries must lead the change on responsible gun laws,” he wrote. “When political leaders fail to act, it’s up to business to take a stand. We have the power to address this crisis … if only we dare to use it.”
Wade said his call to action was motivated in large part by the impassioned plea given by Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr in the hours after the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde a week ago.
“The hospitality industry has the largest number of voters of all industries,” Wade said. “We must turn out against—and pull financial support from—lawmakers or candidates who resist gun safety legislation.”
He likened the movement he’s urging to the one in which restaurant workers pushed to end smoking sections.
Wade noted that the word “restaurant” comes from the French verb meaning “to restore.”
“How restorative it would be to feel safe in our communities again,” he said. “In our supermarkets, our churches, our synagogues, our concerts and our schools. In our restaurants and hotels.”
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