Sarah R. Kaufman, Benjamin Peim, and Carrie Melago, New York Daily News, April 3, 2009
Two city fast-food joints are calling themselves Obama Fried Chicken–and the new names are ruffling some feathers.
Eateries in Brooklyn and Manhattan plastered the new President’s last name on their awnings recently.
And some passersby are cringing, saying the name change plays into old racial stereotypes.
“Why name it that? Just because Obama is black, they’re going to put his name on a fried chicken place in a black neighborhood?” said Akilah Nassy, 16, outside the Brooklyn store.
Several weeks ago, S&T Fried Chicken on St. Nicholas Ave. in Harlem formally renamed itself after the country’s first black President.
And last week, Royal Fried Chicken on Rutland Road in Brownsville, Brooklyn, did the same.
Staff at both eateries say the names are meant to pay homage to the new President, not offend customers or capitalize on his popularity.
“Basically, the owner loves Obama,” said Mohammad Jabbar, 33, manager of the Brownsville store. “He loves him seriously. He supports him.”
Some customers in Brooklyn said it didn’t matter what the owners’ intentions were–the new President’s name shouldn’t be there.
Beyond the racial overtones, some critics found it distasteful that a business would try to make a profit from a historic election. “You see a lot of that in this area–slapping Obama’s name on businesses to make money,” said Khayeen Adams Sr., a furniture store employee in Brooklyn.
In Harlem, the reaction was very different. Business was brisk, and few customers seemed offended at the restaurant, which placed a portrait of the First Family near the cash register.