Escobar the restaurant is pictured in Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, May, 1, 2018. A Latin-themed restaurant in Vancouver is drawing criticism for the name it shares with a famed Colombian drug lord linked to thousands of deaths. A spokeswoman for Escobar restaurant said they aren’t trying to make a statement or offend anyone with the name. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

New B.C. restaurant Escobar takes heat for ‘insensitive’ name

“They’re glorifying a name that brings so much pain”

A Latin-themed restaurant in Vancouver is drawing criticism for the name it shares with a notorious Colombian drug lord linked to thousands of deaths.

A spokeswoman for Escobar said the restaurant owners aren’t trying to make a political statement or offend anyone with the name.

However, Paola Murillo, executive director for Latincouver, a non-profit cultural society in Vancouver, said the name ignores and romanticizes the damage Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel caused over 30 years in South America and the United States.

“They’re glorifying a name that brings so much pain,” Murillo said. “For us, it’s the fear we have with him. For me it brings me back to my younger years, and I don’t think it’s fair for any Colombians to go through that …. Just talking about this brings a knot to my stomach.”

“You wouldn’t eat at a place called Hitler’s or Bin Laden’s,” she said.

Murillo said she reached out to restaurant co-owners co-owners Alex Kyriazis and Ari Demosten to discuss the name, saying she doesn’t want to see the restaurant fail because of what it’s called.

“We’re a community of 100,000 Latin Americans living in Vancouver and I think we’re quite supportive of each other … but I think it’s in their best interest to reconsider.”

Neither Kyriazis nor Demosten responded to a request for an interview.

Escobar’s executive chef Sarah Kashani said the restaurant owners are deeply apologetic if they offended anyone but will keep the name.

“We’re entertainment, we’re a restaurant. It’s a very common name in Latin culture,” she said.

Kashani said restaurants and bars elsewhere in Canada have used the name Escobar while other establishments using criminals’ names, including Capone’s, also exist.

“We are inclusive of the community, we want everyone to feel good when they come in here,” she said.

“We are by no means trying to promote Pablo Escobar, we didn’t name our restaurant Pablo Escobar, we named it Escobar, which is a play on words,” she said of the bar and restaurant.

“We have absolute respect for the pain and suffering of these people,” she said of those affected by Escobar’s crimes.

Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cocaine cartel was responsible for thousands of deaths. He died in 1993 during a shootout with Colombian police.

Diana Patricia Aguilar Pulido, consul general of Colombia in Vancouver, said Escobar was responsible for “what is arguably the darkest episode of Columbian history.”

“From some of the publicity, it is evident that this restaurant wants to be popular and make a profit based on a character that provided terrible suffering to countless Colombian widows, parents, children and families of all sectors of society,” she said in a statement.

She invited the owners of the restaurant to learn about “the real Colombia” and reconsider the name.

“How would a Canadian feel if somebody opened up a restaurant named Marc Lepine … ,” she said of the gunman who killed 14 women at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989.

Murillo, of Latincouver, said she’s heard some people are planing an opening-day protest at the restaurant on May 11, but said marching in the street is not the answer.

“I wouldn’t want this to happen to (the owners), I know how much money and time and effort and love they’ve put into their business,” she said. ”People have been sending me messages, but I think it would be better if people talked to the owners before.”

Kashani said she’d be happy to provide appetizers for the protesters and welcomes a discussion about the name. But she said police may also be present given recent threats directed at the restaurant.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Courtenay candidates have their say

The 16 people running for Courtenay council gathered Tuesday evening at an… Continue reading

Comox Valley Regional District candidates address agricultural issues

Mid-Island Farmers’ Institute hosts all-candidates meeting

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa wins prestigious award

The annual Tourism Vancouver Island Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony was held… Continue reading

Workplace weed: what is allowed with cannabis legalization

Can you smoke a joint and then go to work starting Wednesday?… Continue reading

VIDEO: How to roll a joint

The cannabis connoisseur shares his secrets to rolling the perfect joint

Hero campaign raises $1.1 million for Canada non-profits

Lowe’s Canada Heroes campaign was held throughout September

Scope of Hurricane Michael’s fury becomes clearer in Florida Panhandle

Nearly 137,000 Florida customers remain without power from the Gulf of Mexico to the Georgia border

Streamlined pardon process for pot possession convictions in Canada

Feds say legalization is first step towards objectives of getting pot out of the hands of kids and eliminating black market

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

Most Read