ATLANTA — When words and works combine; a message gains momentum.
It’s why restaurant owners and friends Todd Richards and Billy Kramer are working together on something beyond food. They want food to be the catalyst for change and unity.
“We have to think about our community and the impact we can make,” Richards said. “Lake and Oak BBQ is between two neighborhoods -- East Lake and Oakhurst -- and we have a responsibility to bring people together."
Billy Kramer owns NFA Burger in Dunwoody.
“There is always something bigger than just us,” Richards said.
Kramer added, “Breaking bread together always leads to conversations."
That is the hope behind a simple sign with a deep and far-reaching message: Equality Lives Here.
“To know that everyone is welcome,” Kramer said. “Everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or sexual orientation, should feel welcome no matter where they are, where they’re going, or what they want to do."
As Kramer has been building a burger business, the idea brewed for years. Times of division prompted him to challenge others to commit to, and openly support greater unity, now.
“My hope is people will think of it is one world, not as individuals," he said.
“Everyone sits together around a table,” Richards said. “What better way to have a real conversation about equality.”
He says those moments show people how similar we are instead of focusing on our differences.
“Seeing that would truly make our world a better place,” Richards added. “That is why we are joining Billy in his effort.”
“Real hospitality can only exist where everyone, regardless of circumstances, is welcomed with open arms,” Gillespie said.
Fourteen founding businesses around Atlanta are already part of the Equality Lives Here movement; and it’s growing quickly.
The founding ELH Members include NFA Burger, Lake and Oak BBQ, Revival Decatur, Cold Beer Atlanta, Gunshow Atlanta, Café Sababa, Tin Drum Asian Kitchen, Vino Venue, Buena Vida Tapas & Sol, Evergreen Butcher & Baker, Farm Burger, Big Sky Buckhead, The Mad Italian, and Discover Dunwoody Georgia.
There is momentum for change and unity from Eastlake and Oakhurst, to Dunwoody and many places in between. Hopefully places far beyond. “My goal is to have one of these decals in the window of businesses all around the world.”
“This is an especially timely resource that we are pleased to make available to our communities, given the economic and social issues of our current environment,” says Kramer. “During one of the most turbulent periods of our country's history, it is incumbent of all of us to come together and support one another. Equality Lives Here allows us to do that in a cohesive and tolerant way.”