Creating a restaurant is undoubtedly a long and arduous process. So much has to go into the enterprise before you’ve even put together the menu, including raising the money, finding a suitable location and deciding on a suitable theme and target audience. Even the simple decisions, like naming the restaurant, will take a long time – as you can always second-guess yourself and wonder whether customers will like your idea as much as you do.
The last thing you want is for that restaurant’s name to offend people, as it won’t take long for the name to get out there and shift everyone’s perspective on what you’ve created. All the same, sometimes it’s difficult to understand why certain companies didn’t think ahead to how the public would receive their name.
That brings us to a new Asian restaurant, brought to us in collaboration with Whole Foods. They are now facing massive backlash on social media, after it opened at the new 365 Whole Foods store in Long Beach, California. Why is their such an uproar? Well, it’s because the restaurant is called ‘Yellow Fever’.
Yellow Fever is actually the product of an independent company that is partnered with Whole Foods to open this store, with two other locations in California separate from the chain. Yellow Fever has now released a statement, published by PEOPLE:
“Yellow Fever celebrates all things Asian: the food, the culture and the people and our menu reflects that featuring cuisine from Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand and Hawaii. We have been a proud Asian, female-owned business since our founding over four and a half years ago in Torrance, California.”
There has been no official statement on the restaurant’s name by Whole Foods yet, but they are not the originators of the name – only supporters of the restaurant, financially.
The restaurant was co-founded by executive chef Kelly Kim, who is originally from South Korea. She previously explained the meaning behind the name Yellow Fever in an interview with Next Shark, back in 2017, where she said:
“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.”
The grocery chain announced the grand opening on Twitter last Wednesday, alongside a photo of the restaurant, and it hasn’t exactly gone down well. Though it is notable the restaurant is an “Asian, female-owned business,” many still have an issue with the name.
“Super cool that no one in your company, from concept to construction to this tweet, saw nothing wrong with this,” one user wrote. “Gosh. Nothing like a racist meal that might *also* give you a horrific disease,” another tweeted.
It seems like it’s quite late in the business to be changing the name, but it doesn’t appear that the public are too happy about the implications of the title so far.