Social media outrage broke out after Whole Foods Market’s newest store partnered with an Asian restaurant named Yellow Fever. The independently owned and operated eatery is located in the 365 Whole Foods store that just opened in Long Beach, California.
According to PR Daily, social media users have expressed concern stating, “This is not a joke. Nobody @WholeFoods or @Amazon noticed the problem with calling an Asian restaurant Yellow Fever,” and “My personal concern: all the non-Asian people of the world using this to validate their use of the term yellow fever, because Whole Foods did it.”
Whole Foods has not responded to these claims, instead allowing Kelly Kim, executive chef and co-founder of Yellow Fever, to speak for the restaurant herself:
“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,” said Kelly Kim. Yellow fever also translates directly to love of all things Asian. “We have been a proud Asian, female-owned business since our founding over four and a half years ago in Torrance, California.” Kim says.
Whole Foods was smart in letting Kim respond. She brought cultural authenticity to the public discussion, not to mention has worked at another Yellow Fever location since it began.
Still, Whole Foods should have also responded. The partnership is just that— a partnership. Whole Foods is responsible for chiming in, according to PR Daily. A statement supporting, or even deferring, to chef Kim would have went a long way in this predicament.
The last takeaway should come as no surprise. Twitter is unpredictable, at best. But companies must anticipate this fickleness, and always be prepared to respond.