Philly restaurants raise funds for abortion access

Women gather in front of the restaurant, Her Place Supper Club.

Amanda Shulman stands with her female staff at Her Place Supper Club. (Courtesy of Amanda Shulman)

On Saturday night in Philadelphia, your dining dollars could support abortion access.

Over 40 Philadelphia restaurants have come together to raise money for the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion for patients throughout the country.

Some or all of the participating restaurants’ proceeds from Saturday will go to the network.

The idea bloomed in Amanda Shulman’s restaurant, Her Place Supper Club in Center City, during a pre-service meeting with her manager, Julianna Bursack.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

After the news of the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe vs. Wade on Friday, “the energy was so low, everyone was feeling really horrible,” Shulman said.

They first considered sharing their stance on Instagram, just a message. But instead, they decided to take action.

“We should be doing something if we feel like we need people to know how we feel,” Shulman thought.

The fundraiser was originally going to be one dinner service at Her Place Supper Club. But then, it grew, and rapidly.

With one email to the Sisterly Love Collective, some texts to a few bar managers, and a post on Instagram to spread the idea, it took off. Shulman said she received an overwhelming amount of messages to be a part of the effort, which carried over into Saturday morning.

From a gloomy feeling on Friday, Shulman said the collective action has made her feel energized, and inspired.

“We got a ton of people on board, most of them reaching out to us. ‘How can we help? We’re not open Saturday, what can we donate?’”

For instance, for the 8:30 p.m. dinner turn on Saturday night at Her Place Supper Club, all proceeds will be donated to the National Network. The restaurant will serve oysters from Sweet Amalia, cheese from Third Wheel Cheese, olive oil from Sogno Toscano, and hot sauce from Poi Doh – all donated.

“It was incredible, because obviously, it’s a very sensitive topic to a lot of people. So all of these individuals willing to make their stance so firmly, I don’t take that lightly,” Shulman said. “I think it’s really impressive when people are willing to put a political stance on something.”

She said it’s impossible to separate food from politics, especially right now.

“Just because someone’s political views don’t match your own, I would never want to exclude them from eating. But when it comes to something like this, I don’t really care,” said Shulman.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“If people don’t agree, they don’t have to eat there.”

People gather in front of a restaurant called Her Place Supper Club.
Amanda Shulman stands with her staff at Her Place Supper Club. (Courtesy of Amanda Shulman)

Essen Bakery, which was participating in the fundraiser, sold out of Babkas by 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, according to Shulman. But for diners who still want in on the action on Saturday evening, drinks and food all over Philadelphia and beyond, are waiting.

Saturday night diners can support the fundraiser by ordering a drink at Irwin’s, Jose Pistola’s, and Sally, or an Old fashioned at Lloyd Whiskey Bar. They can also have fresh pasta at Lark in Bala Cynwyd, enjoy fresh greens at Fork, barbecue at Kalaya, Armenia string cheese at mish Mish, churros at El Merkury, or fried green tomatoes at Rex.

At River Twice on Passyunk Ave., all proceeds from the mouth-watering double patty “Mother Rucker” are going to the abortion funds, thanks to owners Randy and Amanda Rucker.

A close-up of a double patty burger at River Twice.
Randy and Amanda Rucker, owners of River Twice, are donating their burger proceeds to the National Network of Abortion Funds. (Courtesy of River Twice)

“Whatever needs to happen to support issues like this… it’s an easy decision on our end,” said Chef Randy Rucker. He said he wants the effort to grow and stay consistent.

“I think this is the tip of the iceberg. I think this will definitely snowball into something else. I would love to see it happen. I would love to see this panned out into something new or different,” said Rucker. “And keep it going, whatever needs to happen, needs to happen.”

Randy Rucker leans at a bar, facing the camera, his laptop open in front of him.
Randy Rucker is the chef and owner of River Twice on Passyunk Ave, which is donating all of their burger proceeds to the National Network of Abortion Funds. (Emily Rizzo/WHYY News)

Shulman said she plans on organizing more fundraising events — a bake sale is already in the works. (Shulman, 29, who has worked at a list of high caliber restaurants, is also known for her pastry skills.)

Two women stand together, smiling, with aprons on.
Amanda Shulman, owner and chef of Her Place Supper Club, along with sous chef Maddie Sutton. They’re contributing all of their proceeds from tonight’s 8:30 p.m. service to the National Network of Abortion Funds. (Courtesy of Amanda Shulman)

For Debasri Ghosh, news of the fundraiser was nothing short of uplifting, after a particularly devastating week. Ghosh is the managing director at the National Network of Abortion Funds and board member of Philadelphia’s local abortion fund, the Abortion Liberation Fund of Pennsylvania.

“When I saw that, it honestly made me tear up to know that our communities are showing up for us,” Ghosh said. “And it’s not lost on me that many of those businesses and restaurants are women-owned, owned by people of color. It really emphasizes for me how important it is that we take care of each other.”

Amanda and Randy Rucker stand side-by-side, smiling.
Randy and Amanda Rucker, owners of River Twice, are donating their burger proceeds to the National Network of Abortion Funds. (Courtesy of River Twice)

After the Supreme Court decision, the national network has seen a groundswell of support. Ghosh called it “breathtaking.”

As of a few days ago, the national organization raised $6 million, according to Ghosh. To put that in perspective, last year, abortion funds across the country collectively raised $11 million.

And every local deed makes a difference, said Ghosh.

“When local businesses are vocal about their support for abortion access, it contributes to a culture that destigmatizes abortion and makes people who have abortions and seek abortions safer,” she said.

Here is the full list of participating restaurants:

A Kitchen, Cafe Ynez, Cantina Dos Segundos, Del Sur, El Merkury, Ember & Ash, Essen Bakery, Fork, Friday Saturday Sunday, High Street, Irwins, Jet Wine Garden, Jose Pistolas, Kalaya, Knead Bagels, Lark/Landing Kitchen, Laser Wolf, Laurel, Lloyd Whiskey Bar, The Lucky Well, Middle Child & Middle Child Club House, mish Mish, Poi Dog, Rex, River Twice, Royal Izakaya, Sally, Sancho Pistolas, Sor Ynez, Spice Finch, Sweet Amalia, Third Wheel Cheese, Time Restaurant, Vernick Wine.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal