Yellow Fever is co-owned by Kelly Kim, who is originally from South Korea
Whole Foods is facing a social media backlash after a new restaurant called Yellow Fever opened in its new 365 store in Long Beach, California.
The grocery chain announced the grand opening on Twitter Wednesday with a photo of the Asian restaurant, which is an independent company that partnered with Whole Foods to open in its store.
“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. We have been a proud Asian, female-owned business since our founding over four and a half years ago in Torrance, California,” Yellow Fever told PEOPLE in a statement.
A rep for Whole Foods had no comment.
Yellow Fever is co-founded by executive chef Kelly Kim, who is originally from South Korea. Kim previously explained the meaning behind the name Yellow Fever in a 2017 interview with Next Shark.
“When we finally came up with the concept, all the names we thought of just plain sucked. Buzzwords like ‘traditional’, ‘bamboo’, ‘lotus’, and ‘golden’ weren’t memorable,” she said. “One night, we just said ‘Yellow Fever!’ and it worked. It’s tongue-in-cheek, kind of shocking, and it’s not exclusive — you can fit all Asian cultures under one roof with a name like this. We just decided to go for it.”
However, Twitter users were not impressed and quickly flooded the comments section with remarks on the restaurant name and Whole Foods’ decision to have the restaurant in its store.
“Super cool that no one in your company, from concept to construction to this tweet, saw nothing wrong with this,” one user wrote.
“Gosh. Nothing like a racist meal that might *also* give you a horrific disease,” another tweeted.
Yellow Fever also has two other locations in California, separate from Whole Foods.