Whole Foods Market, owned by Amazon.com, sparked outrage across social media after the newest store of its 365 chain entered into a partnership with an Asian eatery called Yellow Fever, which is a racially charged title.
The restaurant, which is owned and operated independently, whose name it from the slang for the sexual desire of a white male towards an Asian female, is located in a new 365 store, which opened on Wednesday of last week in Long Beach, California.
A professor and author at Columbia University Marie Myung-Ok Lee on Twitter said that an Asian restaurant with the name Yellow Fever inside the whitest of Whole Foods is taking back of a colonized mind or racist image?
Whole Food has eight locations in its 365 chain that has a no-frills concept as a way to win favor of the millennials. The company did not comment when asked.
The co-founder and executive chef at Yellow Fever, Kelly Kim said that the restaurant celebrates everything Asian from the food to people to culture and the menu is a reflection of all that by featuring delicious cuisine from China, Hawaii, Japan, Korean, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Kim added that the company has been a proud female-owned Asian business since its founding more than four and a half years ago in the city of Torrance, California.
Kim is Korean-American and in previous interviews has said that she is aware the choice of names would be controversial as well as attention-getting.
She said that one night she and other collaborators were discussing names and Yellow Fever was mentioned and it has worked since. She called it tongue-in-check and sort of shocking as it is not exclusive as all Asian cultures can be fit under the same roof with a name such as this.
A few months ago, Kim told an online Asian news site that they just decided to go with the name.
Over a year ago Kim told a local news outlet in Los Angeles that the meaning of Yellow Fever was loving all things Asian and that the push back by the public over the name was not anywhere as drastic as first expected.
There were those on social media that defended the partnership between Yellow Fever and Whole Foods calling a broader cultural trend that is needed and nice to see taking place.