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Double Comfort First Sanctuary Restaurant in Ohio

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Double Comfort First Sanctuary Restaurant in OhioPhoto by Mollie Lyman.
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While everyone is arguing about the legality and ethics of Sanctuary Cities, local social enterprise Double Comfort has wasted no time bringing the concept of Sanctuary Restaurants to Ohio.

A step up from its sister term, a Sanctuary Restaurant is a business providing a safe and welcoming environment to refugees and immigrants, “but it also invites people of all races, genders, gender identities, gender expressions, nationalities and religions to the table,” said owner Mary Lyski.

Double Comfort is the only registered Sanctuary Restaurant in Ohio. Like many progressive folks, Lyski’s action no doubt stems from a desire to do something in response President Donald Trump’s executive orders that have relegated the nation’s refugees and immigrants to the fixed role of criminal.

Refugees and immigrants aren’t alone. Policy is changing to work against other marginalized groups as well, including the Pastors Protection Act currently in the Ohio house. Sponsored by Representative Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), the bill “permits a religious entity to refuse to solemnize a marriage,” a right that already exists within the First Amendment. Pastors can already choose not to perform any marriage, for any reason.

“People are really anxious right now. We’re seeing it in customers’ attitudes. Everyone’s a little more frustrated,” Lyski said. “A lot of people are saying that they feel they’re allowed to say the rude things they might think in their head.”

Lyski’s faced a share of online trolls and customer hissy fits. Employing individuals of various backgrounds, gender identities, abilities and religion, she’s had to ask some patrons to tone it down or leave. Her storefront, adorned with a sign marking Double Comfort a Sanctuary Restaurant, calls other local entrepreneurs to join in.

“Here’s how it’s going to work in here: everyone is going to treat everyone with a level of respect,” Lyski said. “I don’t know that every employer wants to say that, but we want our guests to know, too, that this is a welcoming place.”

For more information, visit www.doublecomfortrestaurant.com.

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