The restaurant employs a total of more than 200 people at its 23,000-square-foot Gallery Place location, ranking it among the largest restaurants in the District (although still smaller than the Hamilton, the 37,000-square-foot operation on 14th Street NW, which the Clyde’s Restaurant Group also owns).
“They don’t want us to close down the entire restaurant” in Gallery Place, Andersen said about ICE.
The situation has created angst on both sides of the business. On Thursday, those 100-plus employees showed up at the D.C. Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, looking for someone who could help them keep their jobs or just remain in the United States, said director Roxana Olivas. Some were scared, Olivas said. Many were confused on what exactly was expected of them.
On the flip side, Clyde’s of Gallery Place is operating without a sizable fraction of its employees who worked in all facets of the restaurant, including bussers, servers and cooks, Andersen said. The location has not cut back its operating hours, but some workers have been pulling double shifts while others are accepting more hours. Clyde’s also has been hiring new employees to replace the ones who left as a result of the ICE audit, Andersen said.
Arturo Griffiths, day labor organizer for D.C. Jobs With Justice, which is assisting the affected workers, said he has encountered situations similar to the one at Clyde’s: Employers that don’t want to keep paying the higher wages of experienced workers will provide an anonymous tip to ICE, which will then conduct an audit of employees’ work-authorization documents. A number of the affected Clyde’s employees, Griffiths said, have worked at the restaurant for more than five years.
“Sometimes places clean up and fire the ones that are there” for long periods, Griffiths said. “Sometimes the companies use ICE to do this cleaning, which is a very comfortable way to do it.”
Griffiths said the employees still working at Clyde’s have seen new, potentially illegal workers join the staff in the aftermath of the ICE audit.
Andersen, the corporate operations manager, said Griffiths’s charge was without merit. “For somebody to say this is inflammatory and probably serves his purpose,” Andersen said. “I have a great love for these people who have worked so hard.”