A pizza place in Baltimore is looking to change its name after a misunderstanding.
The former Papa Kiké’s (pronounced kee-kays), a restaurant owned by El Salvadoran Napoleon Portillo, 34, and his brother Josue, opened a month ago on Eastern Avenue in East Baltimore. However, the “e” in “Kiké’s” originally did not have the accent mark in marketing materials or on the restaurant’s sign, making the name read like the infamous slur for Jews.
The restaurant is named for Portillo’s father Enrique, whose nickname is Kiké. Portillo’s family moved to the United States 18 years ago. The Portillos own another restaurant, Pupuseria Mama Tana in Greektown, which is named after their mother.
“We had some customers come and question where we got the name from,” Portillo said. “I was wondering why they were so interested in the name. I asked, ‘Why do you ask about the name?’ And they told me it’s a bad word. I feel sorry about that. We are so proud of our father.”
Portillo had changed the name on the restaurant’s signage and on Facebook when the JT visited the restaurant on April 23, and is looking to also change the lettering on the menu. However, a week later, the restaurant changed it’s name officially to “Papa Keeke’s” on its Facebook account.
“We were approached by many people to show their concern about the name of our restaurant, to tell them that the only thing we want is to serve ALL communities, no matter what country they come from, we decided to change the name of our restaurant. From today on, our restaurant is called ‘Papa Keeke Pizza & More,'” the owners wrote in the posting which featured an updated profile picture.
Baltimorean Josh Perry was one of the first people to bring the word to Portillo’s attention after he saw the restaurant advertised on Facebook. “I thought that I had to let them know,” Perry, 29, said. “They want to be receptive to everything and not just for the Jewish community. They are very upset and didn’t know it’s a word that’s offensive. They do want to make the change, which is good.”
Portillo apologized if the name offended anyone.
“Every single customer is welcome here,” the co-owner said. “It wasn’t our intention.”