In supporting a local restaurant facing a drastic dip in business, a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist suggested the establishment’s original name, “Ch*nk’s,” was not racist in nature.
“You can argue whether his friends meant it as an Asian slur or a sidewalk description,” Stu Bykofsky wrote on Monday. “America was, rightly or wrongly, less sensitive about such things then.”
The restaurant’s original owner, Sam Sherman, named the business after his childhood nickname, which actually is a commonly-used slur used against people of original descent. For example, when the parents of slain 17-year-old Kenneth Chiu, who was killed 12 years ago, found his body, the term was found scratched on the victim’s car.
According to Bykofsky, the restaurant’s current owner, Joe Groh, has reported a steady loss of business since renaming it Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop in April 2013, and the building has been vandalized, with the culprits writing the old name on the window.
“If 10 percent of the do-gooders who cheered him for doing the right thing came in for an occasional steak or shake, he’d be fine,” Bykofsky wrote of Groh.
The move was swiftly criticized since Groh first announced it in March 2013.
“I just think it’s ridiculous,” one resident told the Inquirer at the time. “Cracker Barrel hasn’t had to change their name. I mean, that could be made into a racist thing.”
Groh told KYW-TV at the time of the renaming that it was a delayed response to a customer complaint about the name in 2009, which led a petition supporting the original name garnering 10,000 signatures and a local arbitrator ruling that he did not have to do so.
“Over the years, it ate at me that it should be changed,” Groh told KYW. “It’s time.”
Watch KYW’s report about the name change, aired on April 1, below.