Tina Rexing is an immigrant, Republican business owner who opposed Donald Trump last year but has now found a way to make money from his election.
At her T-Rex Cookie cafe in Minneapolis, she recently started selling a sandwich called “The Donald.”
It costs $10 for a slice of bologna and American cheese on white bread. Immigrants are charged only $5. “In times like these, we need to bring a little bit of humor into the picture,” she said.
Around the Twin Cities, a small, but visible number of mom-and-pop restaurants and coffee shops have jumped into the political fray since Trump’s victory, taking the risk of upsetting customers with different views. These outlets have added menu items or put up signs that, most often, offer support for immigrants, who often get their start in America in a food-service job.
A Trump presidency was hailed by many as good for business, according to recent surveys, including a January poll by small-business online resource Mantra, and an earlier one by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
But in the restaurant industry, Trump’s hard-line views on immigration pose existential risks. The industry’s kitchens are filled with immigrant workers. And many immigrants start their own restaurants, sometimes bringing tastes from their original country to new audiences.
The owners of Common Roots Café in south Minneapolis put a sign in their restaurant window that said: “Hate Has No Business Here.”
“In the face of the xenophobic, hate-filled rhetoric that has entered the mainstream, we put up a sign to make it clear to Muslims, immigrants and refugees in our community that they are welcome … and that we stand by their side,” Common Roots owners Danny and Elana Schwartzman said last year.
The Schwartzmans, who employ 60 full-time workers, sparked a movement. The Main Street Alliance, a liberal association of small businesses, adopted the theme as part of its “All Are Welcome Here,” campaign.
Rexing, who worked 20 years in corporate IT before following her passion for baking a few years ago, said her cafe had one of its busiest days in recent memory on Jan. 21, when participants in the local version of the nationwide women’s march filled it.
“We sold more in three hours than I usually do in three days,” Rexing said. “There was a lot of good energy and a line out the door.”