National Press Club

Restaurants join Club-led effort to raise money for safe return of journalist Austin Tice

March 10, 2019 | By Louise D. Walsh | ldwalsh@earthlink.net

Debra and Marc Tice join the press conference for their son Austin.

Debra and Marc Tice join the press conference for their son Austin.

Photo/Image: Cheriss May

More restaurants have joined a National Press Club-led effort to raise money for the safe return of award-winning journalist Austin Tice, a former Marine who vanished in Syria in 2012.

The goal is to raise $1 million to match the amount already offered by the FBI for information leading to Tice's safe return.

“We know he’s out there,” Club President Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak said Friday. The Club has set May 2 as “Night Out for Austin Tice,” where diners are asked to eat at restaurants participating in a nationwide campaign to free Tice.

Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra, addressed the Club from their Houston home, praising the new campaign and said the Washington Post’s Super Bowl ad, which pictured their son, reached a new demographic they hoped would support him. So far 30 restaurants in five states and the District of Columbia have pledged a percentage of their May 2 proceeds to the effort.

Jose Andres told the Club that his restaurant Zaytinya would join the campaign, Kodjak said.

Kodjak said the U.S. government believes Tice is still alive. He took photos in Syria for the Post, McClatchy and CBS. He served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Local restaurant owners discussed their support for Tice.

“He was detained because he was a journalist,” said Jamie Leeds, chef-owner of JL Restaurant Group, which includes Hank’s Oyster Bar. "This is just unacceptable.

And Ruth Gresser, chef-owner of five Pizzeria Paradiso restaurants said: “Press freedom in our democracy is a must. This is not negotiable.”

Restaurants are encouraged to join the campaign.