Whole Foods is under fire after an Asian-themed restaurant named “Yellow Fever” opened inside it’s new 365 store on Wednesday in Long Beach, California.
— 365byWholeFoods (@365byWholeFoods) April 25, 2018
The restaurant is owned independently with two other location in California, but the association with Whole Foods has caused many to take offense of the name, voicing their disdain on Twitter.
— This Is My Jam (@Marcos_El_Malo) April 28, 2018
Great name. Foresee no problems here, with the name.
— Arkansas Fred (@ArkansasFred) April 25, 2018
Super cool that no one in your company, from concept to construction to this tweet, saw nothing wrong with this
— (@crlshtchr) April 27, 2018
— Recalibrate and Destroy (@vonchip) April 25, 2018
For the love of God. What were you thinking??
— Krista (@kristainlondon) April 27, 2018
I can’t believe that’s real. How the hell did that make it out of a first pitch meeting? Gross.
— it’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s dlevy! (@itsdlevy) April 27, 2018
While the restaurant’s name has many questioning the racial and sexist implications behind the term, the twist is that the founder of the restaurant, Kelly Kim, is a Korean-American who is actually “re-appropriating a term — taking ownership of something and defining it in our own way.” In an exclusive interview with NextShark last year, Kim said:
“Growing up in Texas, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to Korean food and culture and I realized that my palette evolved into more of an Asian-American palette. As I got older and grew into my career, I packed lunches during the week — mostly mixed rice bowls — when it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen the kind of food I was making anywhere before and that I could do this for a living. I wanted to start a restaurant, but I didn’t want to be tied down to one kind of food, like Korean or Japanese. I wanted to be the Asian version of Chipotle.
“When we finally came up with the concept, all the names we thought of just plain sucked. Buzzwords like ‘traditional,’ ‘bamboo,’ ‘lotus,’, and ‘golden’ weren’t memorable.
“One night, we just said ‘Yellow Fever!’ and it worked. It’s tongue-in-cheek, kind of shocking, and it’s not exclusive — you can fit all Asian cultures under one roof with a name like this. We just decided to go for it.”
Although word has gotten out that the owner is an Asian American female, some netizens are still on the fence on whether the name is appropriate.
Debating whether #YellowFeverEats is an appropriate name for an Asian rest.? The owner is a Korean-American woman: “it’s re-appropriating a term — taking ownership of something and defining it in our own way” https://t.co/SJX4RifrXj pic.twitter.com/svKuViY7JI
— MayraCuevas (@MayraECuevas) April 28, 2018
#YellowFever — offensive or clever restaurant name? Some people say a new restaurant inside a @365byWholeFoods (Long Beach, CA) is offensive. Others, like owner Kelly Kim, say it’s a way to pay tribute to all things Asian. What do you think? pic.twitter.com/Z366ZcF6H1
— Veronica Miracle (@ABC7Veronica) April 28, 2018
Others wonder what the big deal is…
Not sure why Asians would be offended, since I’ve always understood “yellow fever” to be a racial/sexual pejorative that Asians use against non-Asians (white men in particular). https://t.co/tyMSTsIwPm
— 罗杰 何 🍜 (@catholiclawyer) April 28, 2018
What’s the verdict: is the restaurant name “Yellow Fever” offensive?