A fried-chicken restaurant owner apologized after he described the new eatery as “urban, street style” and is fighting back against accusations of cultural appropriation by suggesting it’s a “liberal fantasy”.
Adam Kucenic, owner of multiple restaurants, has come under fire after a local food blog in Pittsburgh announced the new restaurant and described it as “90s hip-hop themed fried chicken restaurant” while Kucenic called it an “urban, street style type of place.”
The description prompted social media users to condemn the restaurant, saying it’s racist, tone-deaf and guilty of cultural appropriation, Pittsburgh City Paper reported.
“Most business owners would be willing to listen to their core customers when attention is brought upon problematic concepts, in this case, cultural appropriation,” Liz Giap wrote to the paper about the restaurant.
“It’s basically coming down to a white couple launching an ‘urban’ fried chicken spot in a mostly black neighborhood and it doesn’t sit right with me.
“Fried chicken is delicious, I get it. But there doesn’t need to be a stereotypical theme to the restaurant that only benefits the owners.”
Tara Coleman, another person unhappy with the restaurant wrote: “It’s taking things that have traditionally been urban—like hip-hop culture, braided hair—taking those things without crediting the sources, taking those things and taking advantage of them in order to make money.”
In an interview with the paper, owner Kucenic apologized to those who were offended by how the restaurant was described in the article.
He also says the name will be changed from “the Coop” to “Lil’ Chunky’s Chicken Shack”.
“It’s all my fault; I 100 percent take the blame for the way I described the concept as ‘urban street style’. I shouldn’t have used those words,” he said.
“All we want to create is an affordable fast-casual restaurant in the neighborhood. We’re not trying to appropriate black culture.”
The new name, however, is causing waves. “Unless it is actually owned by someone named ‘Lil Chunky’ this name is even worse and manages to sound even more tone deaf. Lil Chunky’s Chicken Shack? wow… this place is out of business before it even opens it’s doors,” wrote Joe Wos on Facebook.
Kucenic also admitted to not properly handing the controversy. Following a barrage of criticism on social media, the restaurant owner posted a National Review article titled “The Liberal Fantasy of Cultural Appropriation“.
“The basis of the article is that if cultural appropriation is wrong for one culture it should be wrong for all cultures,” he said. “We shouldn’t have posted it. That was another mistake on our part.”
His partner, Diana Strekalovskaya, meanwhile, directly replied to a social media user on Facebook, brushing off accusations of racism: “I’m sorry that you and your friend don’t see it that way, but frankly, it doesn’t really matter to us”.