Whole Foods Gets Flak After Asian Restaurant Called 'Yellow Fever' Opens In New California Store

Lorenzo Tanos

Whole Foods was bombarded by negative comments on social media in recent days, following news that a pan-Asian restaurant known as Yellow Fever opened in a new Whole Foods 365 store in Long Beach, California.

As explained in a report from People, the controversy started on Wednesday, when Whole Foods announced the opening of a Yellow Fever restaurant at its Long Beach 365 store. People noted that the restaurant is independently owned and had teamed up with Whole Foods for the opening of its latest branch.

In a statement issued to People, Yellow Fever described itself as a "proud Asian, female-owned business" that had first opened shop over four years ago in Torrance, California, and a "celebration" of Asian food and culture. The restaurant serves Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Hawaiian food, and was co-founded by Kelly Kim, an executive chef who was born in South Korea and moved to the United States when she was 9-years-old.

Speaking to NextShark in 2017, Kim explained why she chose "Yellow Fever" as the name of her restaurant, stressing that she went with the name because the usual "buzzwords" associated with Asian culture didn't strike her as being memorable.

"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."

"Gosh. Nothing like a racist meal that might *also* give you a horrific disease."

Following the backlash, Kim offered her comments on the criticism, telling CBS2 News that there has been very little negativity in Yellow Fever's four-and-a-half years in business. She also appealed to consumers and critics to focus on what her restaurant is selling, asking them to try the food, appreciate the company's vision, and stop "picking on the little kid." She added that since it opened up at the Long Beach Whole Foods 365 location, the new Yellow Fever outlet has been doing twice as well as the two older branches.