The owners insist they’re not glorifying the violence of colonialism.
Many people would perhaps think twice about opening a restaurant devoted to an appreciation of “British colonial” cuisine. Not Sally Krantz, however! The Portland restaurateur, owner of the unfortunately named Saffron Colonial, wanted to create a space where people could safely indulge in the spoils of Western conquest and plunder vis-à-vis the elevated flavors of fine English dining. Weirdly, that did not go over well in the gentrified Portland neighborhood in which she chose to open her restaurant.
Since the restaurant first opened its doors, it has been subject to endless criticism from the Portland community, which Eater Portland has helpfully chronicled. In an open letter to Krantz, activist Stephanie Dünx connected the restaurant to the ongoing gentrification of the North Williams neighborhood in which it is situated. “It’s a slap in the face to people who have experience the harms of racist economic development policies (a legacy of colonialism), wherein land and resources were taken from black and brown people in order to make some white folks rich,” she wrote in a Medium post.
The outrage culminated in a number of protests—including a March 19 “Stop Romanticizing Colonialism” demonstration that forced the owner to remove the Tortolan Plantation Press cocktail from the “Winston Churchill” breakfast menu, a regrettable collection of words if I ever saw them. (“Most people like Winston Churchill,” Krantz told the Daily Beast. “Quite a fun thing to have a Winston Churchill breakfast.” Churchill, it should be noted, once said that Indians were a “beastly people” with a “beastly religion” and that Palestinians were “barbaric hordes who ate little but camel dung.” But these are minor affronts.)
But nothing—nothing—has been worse for this restaurant’s reputation than its owners, who have misguidedly chosen to dig their heels in and react to the protesters with utter disdain. In a now deleted Facebook post, the establishment’s publicist referred to the protesters with the c-word, writing, “So we had more idiot protestors at the restaurant this afternoon. I especially liked the one who thought he was all Wall St. Occupy with his hoodie up and covering his face for the teargas we had stashed in the shop! He didn’t like it when I told him he looked like a c*nt.”
For what it’s worth—perhaps very little, after that response—Krantz insists that Saffron Colonial is not celebrating colonialism. “For me, it’s about the cultural melding of food around the world, focusing on how England has transformed and affected cuisine where they’ve been present, be it America, India, or Sri Lanka,” she told the Oregonian.