Downtown restaurant hosts brunch benefiting local refugees

Downtown restaurant hosts brunch benefiting local refugees

A downtown Madison restaurant held a brunch to benefit refugees Saturday, raising more than $2,000 to help Jewish Social Services fund the resettlement of refugees in the area.

Three women, two from Syria and one from Iraq, served as guest chefs at Layla’s Persian Food, cooking food for customers during the fundraising effort.

“They’re all mothers. They have young children, just like me,” Layla Borokhim, who owns the Butler Street restaurant, said.

Borokhim said she was motivated to host the weekend brunch because of her family’s history.

“My father is actually from Iran,” Borokhim said. “Without open borders, I wouldn’t be here.”

Borokhim said she disagrees with President Donald Trump’s policy toward refugees. Trump had signed an executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq and Syria, from entering the United States. A federal judge temporarily halted the order Friday.

“They’re not coming to do something bad. They’re coming because where they are right now, they don’t want to be there anymore, because that place is bad,” Borokhim said.

Borokhim said more than 200 customers took part in Saturday’s brunch. She said Layla’s would host “refugee brunches” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every weekend, both Saturdays and Sundays, as long as people keep coming to the restaurant.