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

Reverend Lily Bell wins Lions’ Lifetime Achievement Award

She loves dancing, singing and the colour yellow. She is a Raven,… Continue reading

BC SPCA constable visits Haida Gwaii

Special Constable John Meneray shook plenty of hands and a few paws… Continue reading

Nathan Cullen hosts ‘Create Your Canada’ contest

Local MP Nathan Cullen has a contest for people who catch themselves… Continue reading

In Pictures: Masset Main Street packed for Harbour Day

Sunshine and a fun set of games, sports, BBQs, fish bakes, pancake… Continue reading

Province to fund social housing in Queen Charlotte

People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness will soon have… Continue reading

Police release video on how to ‘run, hide, fight’ if there’s an active shooter

Vancouver police offer video with input from E-Comm, BC EHS, Vancouver Fire and Rescue

Two-year-old found unresponsive in pool

Mission RCMP located toddler after she went missing from a local daycare

Toronto opening 800 emergency spaces to deal with influx of refugee claimants

Beginning Thursday, Toronto will temporarily house refugee claimants and new arrivals in 400 beds in the city’s east end.

Breaking: Trump cancels summit with North Korea

Trump cancels June 12 summit with North Korea’s Kim, citing ‘tremendous anger and open hostility’ in recent statement

Rivers rising: Floods in B.C., New Brunswick a warning of what’s to come

In B.C., thousands of residents are returning to homes this week marked with red or yellow signs indicating a health inspection is necessary

North Korea demolishes nuke test site with series of blasts

North Korea has carried out what it says is the demolition of its nuclear test site in the presence of foreign journalists.

Wildfire sparks near perimeter of devastating 2017 Elephant Hill fire

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Study recommends jurors receive more financial and psychological support

Federal justice committee calls for 11 policy changes to mitigate juror stress

Research needed on impact of microplastics on B.C. shellfish industry: study

SFU’s department of biological sciences recommends deeper look into shellfish ingesting microbeads

Most Read