A small chain of restaurants in Los Angeles is shutting down its operations a year after going viral for its name Yellow Fever, which many found to be culturally insensitive.
Originally a standalone spot for rice bowls and other Asian fusion cuisines in Torrance, Yellow Fever gained prominence in 2018 when it partnered with Whole Foods in Long Beach to open a mini location inside the grocery store.
The restaurants, which eventually added a third location in Marina del Rey, are reportedly closing as they struggled to stay afloat due to sluggish business, according to owners Michael and Kelly Kim, Eater reports.
“This started and always has been a passion project more than a business, but at the end of the day if you can’t make money you won’t survive,” Michael Kim was quoted as saying. “We are so thankful for the experience and we know that we had an impact on some people’s lives and that makes the whole thing worth it.”
It is expected that all three locations of Yellow Fever will be closed by the weekend.
While owned by Asian Americans, the restaurant was heavily criticized online when its opening was announced on Twitter.
Michael and Kelly Kim stood by their name choice even before the online backlash, explaining that they were trying to reclaim the term.
“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,” Kelly told NextShark back in 2017
before people online began taking issue with the name.
“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.”
“It’s re-appropriating a term — taking ownership of something and defining it in our own way,” she added.
Featured Image via Instagram / yellowfevereats (Right