‘Top Chef’ alum adds note to receipts: Immigrants make America great

Posted at 10:45 PM, Feb 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-06 22:45:24-05

NEW YORK — A Brooklyn restaurant's receipts are causing quite a stir online after a diner's photo circulated on social media.

From the outside, Kiwiana looks like any other quaint and cozy Park Slope restaurant — but they have a message for their customers.

“Immigrants make America great (they also cooked your food and served you today)," reads the bottom of the receipts.

The bold political move by “Top Chef” alum Mark Simmons, chef and owner of Kiwiana, didn’t go unnoticed for long.

"It's basically a silent protest," Simmons told WPIX-TV.

Mary Emily O'Hara tweeted a picture of her receipt from Sunday brunch and got more than 186,000 likes and 68,000 retweets and climbing.

The chef and owner of Kiwiana emigrated from New Zealand 10 years ago and opened the restaurant in 2011.

Simmons says his receipt messages aren't usually this political but he said he had to respond to President Trump's executive order.

The order bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely halts refugees from Syria. The order is being challenged in courts.

"I think about the families being torn apart," Simmons said. "Put yourself in their position, it would break me up."

In the kitchen and out front, employees represent at least six countries including Russia, China, Guatamala and the Dominican Republic.

When 17-year-old Kelvin Pichardo was hired, he says Simmons told him they were all from different countries but were one family.

"We got people from around the world," Pichardo said. "We don't have a special race here."

Customers and passersby appear to have no issues with the pro-immigrant receipt.

"My thoughts are that is fine and well," Michelle Taylor told WPIX. "He wanted people to know the people who work here are immigrants. He just wanted to tell the world. I am sure they don't find that to be a problem."

Customer Jen Bonczar said, "We shouldn't be throwing people out, we should be welcoming them."

When asked how long the receipts will continue to have this pro-immigrant message, Simmons replied, "For as long as it takes."