Good Relations and Good Food: Englewood’s D’Colombia Restaurant

Englewood Restaurant

By CoFiA Wage Theft Committee member Norm Smith

The staff at D.Colombia: Mom Libia, Duvan and Cristina, plus Eddy and Elkin
Englewood Restaurant
Owner Duvan Echeverry

The world of the migrant worker, CoFiA’s world, is full of heart-rending stories. It’s wonderful, then, to tell a happy tale. The story of Englewood’s D’Colombia Restaurant, and its engaging owners Cristina and Duvan Echeverry, is a happy one.

The story begins in early October, 2014, when one of CoFiA’s clients presented us a wage theft claim against a restaurant in Englewood. Our client had worked there for three weeks, and hadn’t been paid. The restaurant owed him $1675. We called the owner, who straightforwardly confirmed the debt; indeed, he had many debts. But he hoped to pay our client shortly.

A few days later we got a call from the client–the restaurant at 99 W. Palisade Avenue had closed, and his ex-employer was gone. Time for some detective work! Maybe a visit to the new owners would help us to track down our client’s ex-employer and get a settlement.

Something even better happened when we drove to Englewood. We met the new owners of the renamed D’Colombia Restaurant, the brother and sister team of Duvan and Cristina Echeverry. They figured that when they acquired the business, they acquired not only its assets, but also its debts. “Tell your client to call me,” said Duvan. “We’ll work it out.” And he handed over a $200 down payment. In the following days, the Echeverrys worked to settle the rest of the debt.

“Why did you do this?” we later asked Duvan. “It would be so easy to disclaim the debt of an earlier business.”

“Because I am a worker, too,” said Duvan. “We need to help each other out. That’s the way it works.” The Echeverry’s generosity extended well beyond CoFiA’s client; they settled the back wages of a number of the old restaurant’s staff, and hired several of them.

The food is also part of D’Colombia’s happy story. It is excellent as one might expect from a family of cooks from Santuario in the Colombian countryside. We asked Duvan how he expected to succeed in a neighborhood thick with restaurants.

“We’ll succeed with our quality. We use old family recipes. We even fly in my mom to consult about the food.” The sopa and cazuela we tried during our visit were very high quality. But don’t ask for a menu in this family-style restaurant–one eats, whether taking out or at a table, what the family is cooking. It’s all good.

D’Colombia is at 99 West Palisades Avenue, Englewood, NJ, just east of the Palisade Avenue traffic circle. The phone number is 201-731-3192.

Resistance Cafe — Friday, July 21, 2017

Resistance Cafe
Resistance Cafe
Teaneck-based Resistance Cafe’s theme of the month is “The Declaration of Immigration.” Musicians, artists, performers, poets, comedians and concerned residents are all welcome. Light refreshments provided.

People who wish to perform are asked to sign up for the Open Mic ahead of time and reserve a spot. Go to https://www.facebook.com/ResistanceCafe/

CoFiA is looking forward to sharing a lively evening with others who are concerned about the sad state of immigration policy and practice in our country and around the world.

Leadership Training opportunities

CoFiA members and staff will begin a series of Leadership Training sessions on Wednesday nights, beginning July 19, 2017, at the Palisades Park Public Library, 257 Second Avenue, Palisades Park, from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.  The sessions are open to members as well as the general public, and will continue until the end of August. For more information call 201-598-2253 (CoFiA, English and Spanish) or 201-561-4192 (Spanish only).

Sraff and Members of CoFiA

Volunteers Invited — August 12, 2017

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Barbeque 2016
All CoFiA members and friends are invited to our annual barbeque at the beautiful home of Carmita Sanchez Fong, 205 Grand Avenue, Leonia (corner of Grand and Park), on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.

Volunteers are needed to help with set up and clean up, as well as to bring wonderful dishes. CoFiA will provide the barbeque.

Please contact Margaret (marbwhite@aol.com) if you can come.

Assemblyman Johnson hosts meeting with CoFiA, NJAIJ

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Margaret White, Dina Mansour, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Johanna Calle

On Friday, June 23, 2017, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37) welcomed representatives from the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, and from CoFiA, to his office in Teaneck. The group engaged in a lively discussion of immigration issues, including the NJAIJ new policy platform. Mr. Johnson demonstrated broad familiarity with the issues, and joined with Johanna Calle, Executive Director, and Dina Mansour, Outreach Coordinator, of NJAIJ, as well as Margaret White, Chair of CoFiA, in putting together a plan to reach out to various groups, including the Bergen County Prosecutor, the Bergen County Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Bergen County Sheriff, to expand familiarity with the issues.

Mr. Johnson also shared with the group his office’s recent initiative in approaching the governing bodies of a number of municipalities inviting them to pass resolutions affirming their commitment to providing equal, respectful and dignified treatment of all individuals, regardless of their immigration status; and to remain welcoming communities. Several muncipalities have already passed such resolutions and others are in process.

The group agreed that this conversation is to be the first of a series of meetings to design a workable policy in New Jersey that will create a more welcoming and positive atmosphere for all immigrants, both documented and undocumented.

Workers Link — Satisfied Customer

We recently received a note with photos from a friend who had requested assistance from our Workers Link Program. “The worker, Mr. M., did a fine job,” he reported. “He trimmed, weeded and spread a lot of mulch. We are very happy with the job and with him.”

From a satisfied customer
From a satisfied customer
Work done by a Worker's Link member
Work done by a Worker’s Link member

To request similar assistance, go to the “Hire a Worker” page on this web site, read it carefully, and follow instructions. The more information you can provide the better. The workers are pretty busy but we can usually find someone within a few days.

Palisades Park Library Centennial Celebration Saturday June 17

The Palsades Park Public Library is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this Saturday, June 17, 2017, from 12 noon to 3 p.m., 257 Second Street, Palisades Park. The Community of Friends in Action congratulates the library and its hard-working staff for the varied and interesting programs and services it provides to the Palisades Park community. CoFiA has offered ESL courses for the Spanish-speaking members of the community for many years, and we are grateful for the warm and helpful hospitality the library has provided. Congratulations on this important anniversary!

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Palisades Park Centennial

CoFiA welcomes summer intern

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Enok and Mr. Norm

We are happy to welcome Enok Choe, a resident of Palisades Park, who has volunteered to help us this summer as our summer intern. Enok, who attends boarding school in Delaware during the school year, joins Andreanna Papatheodorou, as our second intern.

Enok speaks Korean, Spanish, and English and is working to earn his Eagle Scout badge. He is a quick study and eager to be helpful. Welcome!

CoFiA presents “Know Your Rights”at St. Michael’s

New Members with Sayda and intern Andreanna
Sayda and members of the Saturday group

CoFiA’s community organizer, Sayda Tuanama, and several members of the CoFiA Saturday delegados group, were invited by leaders of St. Michael’s  Hispanic Congregation and Father Cho to present a workshop on “Know Your Rights”after the regular Wednesday night Spanish-language mass on Wednesday, June 7, 2017,  at the church on Central Avenue in Palisades Park. The presentation was well-received by the  congregants who stayed after the mass to participate.

Sayda and the group members had been rehearsing the presentation for several weeks, and were welcomed by the president of the Hispanic Congregation, Pedro Calan, and other officers. Participants took careful note of the suggestions that were presented about how to respond appropriately if officers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service (ICE) come knocking at the door. Future workshops on other aspects of this difficult experience are planned.

Thank you, St. Michael’s, for helping us get this important information out to the community.

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St. Michael’s Church

Grand Shilla Bakery welcomes CoFiA staff

For several months, members of the CoFiA staff and board have held weekly Monday morning staff meetings at Grand Shilla Bakery on Broad Avenue in Palisades Park. The owners have been very generous, allowing us to move tables around as necessary and letting us meet as long as needed–for no cost except the purchase of several cups of coffee! Thank you so much.

Grand Shilla Bakery
Monday staff meeting at Grand Shilla
Monday staff meeting at Grand Shilla