This story has been updated.
The co-founder of Taylor Gourmet angered some Washingtonians today by meeting with President Trump for a photo-op connected to his executive order cutting regulations for small businesses.
Casey Patten, who co-founded the local chain of hoagie shops in 2008, was photographed shaking hands with the president in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. The meeting was first reported by Popville.com, and quickly led to Twitter calls for a boycott from its patrons, many of whom reside in the District of Columbia, which voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.
— No, Ben, No! (@dtipson) January 30, 2017
The founder of @TaylorGourmet met with Trump and now there's a hole in my heart where risotto balls used to be.
— Sara Langhinrichs (@SaraLang) January 30, 2017
In an email, Patten said he “was invited by The White House to participate in a discussion surrounding issues facing small businesses. I was proud to have also had the opportunity to raise these issues in similar meetings with President Obama and his staff.”
He continued: “I deeply believe that America’s strength comes from our diversity, our freedoms and the opportunities which I and so many other small business owners and entrepreneurs have been afforded. We shared with the President our perspective on how to ensure those opportunities are available to even more people, and we will continue to work with lawmakers across the political spectrum.”
Trump’s policies, including the new travel and immigration ban, were met with days of protests this past weekend. The restaurant industry is a major employer of immigrants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, of the 24 million foreign-born workers in the U.S., about 1.7 million are employed in food service and preparation jobs, though the bureau does not include citizenship or immigration status data. According to Pew, the biggest employer of undocumented immigrants in the District is the hospitality industry.
In recent days, some businesses that have spoken out against the president’s policies have been rewarded with support on social media, while others have been met with sharp criticism from both sides. Starbucks announced that it would hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years, a decision that was met by calls for a boycott from the right. A campaign to delete the Uber app trended this weekend, after the company continued to accept fares from John F. Kennedy International Airport after a taxi strike in solidarity with travelers who were being detained due to the travel ban. Uber later said it would establish a fund to assist drivers affected by the refugee ban. But passengers tweeted about their intentions to switch to Lyft, another ride-sharing service that was being lauded for its donation to the American Civil Liberties Union.
For Taylor Gourmet, the backlash is especially ironic considering the company’s downtown billboard that reads: “Less politics, more hoagies.”