After releasing its "New India Street Sheet" menu, Minneapolis restaurant Chino Latino (yes, that is the name) is facing some controversy for the image and ad copy it chose. And it appears that it was all part of their plan.
The ad depicts civilians walking the streets in what appears to be a mix of western and traditional Indian dress. In smaller font than the menu items, a bulleted list next to the image reads:
- Untouchables welcome
- Scimitars banned
- No longer serving slumdog
- I.T. Dept: Now Hiring!
Since it was sent out as an email blast, the ad has incensed many Twin Cities residents who identify as Desi (a slang term used by Indian people to refer to individuals and culture from the subcontinent), including Christy Spillman George and members of the Minnesota Bollywood Association.
"We are fans of irreverent humor and of Chino Latino," writes Spillman. "But in this case the attempt at 'edgy' humor has completely missed the mark, and has resulted in unfunny references to hurtful historical events and reinforcements of ugly stereotypes."
The story offers more background about the restaurant, whose had a history of controversial marketing. It continues:
Even after Chino was ordered to pay $325,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought on by allegations of mistreatment of Hispanic employees, owner Phil Roberts brushed off comments from protesters by saying he hopes to keep the ads "rather outrageous," adding, "I really do want people to be offended." He has also referred to the people who decry the billboards as "bedwetting hippies."
Spillman also added the following:
"This is roughly equivalent to, say, selling soul food with a side of slavery humor — which we doubt would be so glibly tolerated. Our hope is that Chino Latino isn't punished, but made aware that the ethnic communities of Minneapolis are viable sources of income, not fodder for their 'hipster racism'."