Despite Haspel and her husband, Lee, not being of Asian descent, Haspel chose a name that sounded stereotypically Chinese.
Not unlike many oriental-themed restaurants in the U.S., Lucky Lee’s is decorated with unsurprising touches like bamboo and jade. The logo even has a chopstick-inspired font.
Responding to the backlash, Haspel tells the New York Times that she had good intentions.
“We are so sorry,” she was quoted as saying. “We were never trying to do something against the Chinese community. We thought we were complementing an incredibly important cuisine, in a way that would cater to people that had certain dietary requirements.”
Haspel also took to Instagram on Tuesday to apologize for having “disappointed and hurt so many of you.”
“We learned that our marketing perpetuated negative stereotypes that the Chinese American community has been trying to fight for decades,” she continued.
“As a health coach turned the first-time restaurateur, I never meant for the word ‘clean’ to mean anything other than in the ‘clean-eating’ philosophy, which caters towards a specific nutrition and wellness lifestyle. I also did not realize that the plays on words we used for marketing purposes were reminiscent of offensive language used against the Chinese American community. I was naive and I am sorry.”