MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Before it ever opened to customers, a St. Paul restaurant specializing in Mexican street food has changed its name after activists protested, citing cultural appropriation.
Elotes Woodfire Grill was slated to open Thursday on West 7th Street, inside the keystone Keg & Case Market space left vacant by In Bloom. However, the new restaurant wasn’t able to welcome guests due to an issue with the building’s fire suppression equipment.
Protesters also picketed outside the restaurant. According to an online petition, they took issue with the owner, Brian Ingram, using the word “Elotes” in the restaurant’s name. The protesters say the word is sacred, as it stems from an indigenous word for corn, a native crop. There was no issue with Ingram’s interpretation of Mexican street food.
What a Day 1 for Elotes in St. Paul: didn’t open because of fire suppression equipment issue; protestors picketed the name as cultural appropriation; they changed the name to Woodfired Cantina. Latino and Latina chefs/restauranteurs have been pushing them on this for awhile. pic.twitter.com/kqt6EfjYYc
— DeRusha Eats (@DeRushaEats) September 11, 2020
Quickly, the restaurant rebranded as Woodfired Cantina. It’s Facebook page and website both now feature the new name, as well as a new logo. In a statement, Ingram said that he took immediate action after listening to the community.
“Our goal is to make food that brings people together,” he said. “We are here to listen and learn. Please join us for a meal to make our community a better place.”
Woodfired will feature In Bloom’s custom 20-foot-long wood fire cooktop. But instead of a fine dining focus, Woodfired will serve roasted meats and vegetables for tacos and “Lava bowls.” Grilled corn, or elote, will also be on the menu.