Inclusive dining: Gender-affirming hospitality and queer-owned pop-ups

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A hunger for community and acceptance has created a trend for more queer-owned restaurants and establishments nationally. Photo by V.K. Rees.

Whether it's who's seated first, who samples the wine, or who receives the bill, many gender stereotypes are built into traditional restaurant service, thanks to the European fine dining model. Rax Will reports on restaurants, like Kismet in Los Angeles, looking to change that dynamic. How are they moving toward a more inclusive mode of hospitality? By adopting gender-neutral language when interacting with guests and offering gender-neutral bathrooms, such as the ones at the Ruby Fruit.

In a piece for Eater LA, Will offers a rundown of queer-owned pop-ups and restaurants. Citing a national trend, they say many queer or transgender people may not feel comfortable in traditional restaurants and kitchens, so dining and drinking spaces can create nurturing, gender-affirming spaces.

Chef Chuchy Huizar (they/she) of Feed the People has been cooking her entire life, starting her pop-up as an undergraduate at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her plant-based recipes come from six generations of Latina cooks, living in Los Angeles. In Eagle Rock, Kylie Kiyomi Obermeier (she/her) serves out of a home dubbed Muddy Heaven, where her dishes are influenced by her Japanese-American mother. Chef Sammy Schwartz (she/they) of Slutty Sammys slings gooey, cheesy sandwiches at the Ruby Fruit

Slutty Sammys began as a pop-up on New York's Riis Beach but the cheesy sandwiches are now being offered at the Ruby Fruit in Silver Lake. Photo by V.K. Rees.