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A small move to counter boycott

Abdollah is a Times staff writer.

Employees of the Los Angeles restaurant that came under fire this week after a manager gave $100 to the campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California said they had made a $500 contribution to the advocacy group that is raising money to challenge Proposition 8.

The Los Angeles restaurant that came under fire this week after a manager gave $100 to the campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California said that it had donated $500 to the advocacy group that is raising money to challenge Proposition 8.

The Thursday online donation to Equality California, an advocacy group for the gay and lesbian community, came at precisely 7:22:03 p.m., about 22 minutes into a planned demonstration outside the restaurant’s doors for the second night in a row.

“It will go toward our work, and our work includes working to overturn Proposition 8,” said Ali Bay, a spokeswoman for Equality California. “We’re working legislatively and through the courts to promote equality for the [lesbian and gay] community.”

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Over the last week, online social networking sites and blogs have urged people to boycott El Coyote Mexican Cafe on Beverly Boulevard because of the $100 donation by Marjorie Christoffersen, a manager at the restaurant and a daughter of El Coyote’s owner, who is Mormon,

Christoffersen, also Mormon, met with protesters Wednesday, and at one point broke down in tears. But some activists said they still faulted her for making the donation.

According to another manager, Arnoldo Archila, El Coyote employees pooled their money to make the donation -- though it wasn’t clear who actually contributed. He said Christoffersen was not involved in the decision.

“Maybe it’s a way to say sorry, that we have always tried to be a charity place, that we donate to a lot of places,” Archila said. “It’s something to show that we can help also.”

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Manager Larry Crenshaw gave $50 to “try to smooth things over” and counter the boycott. He said the protests had started to affect employees. One server called in Thursday worried about going into work. Thursday night crowds grew to about 200 people, and customers leaving the restaurant were called vulgarities, Crenshaw said.

Diners at one table had to be compensated for their $50 tab because their night had been ruined, and patrons celebrating a birthday at an outdoor table had to endure protesters late into the evening, he said.

“We’re just kind of dealing with it, and we’re hoping it will blow over,” Crenshaw said. “We’re hoping this will ease things, but it seems like they want a personal apology or a donation made by Margie to kind of equal what she made . . . and she has refused because it’s her own personal belief.”

Crenshaw said Christoffersen remains out of town and is “very upset” by what has happened.

“She’s a very strong person, but from what I understand, she’s not in good shape,” he said.

El Coyote is one of several businesses linked to Yes on 8 that have been boycotted. Some gay-marriage advocates have also called for boycotts of other restaurants, such as El Pollo Loco, and the movie chain Cinemark.

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tami.abdollah@latimes.com.

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