A ‘Colonial’ Themed Restaurant In Portland Is In Trouble For… Uh… Colonialism

Senior Editor
04.01.16 50 Comments

Sally Krantz is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who worked at a three-Michelin star restaurant in Paris before moving to Hong Kong and opening three Saffron Bakery Cafes, which she ran for 20 years. She recently moved back to Portland, Oregon to open up a bakery and restaurant. The plan was to serve “globally inspired dishes from the height of the British Empire,” a unique concept that makes sense coming from someone who spent two decades in the former British colony of Hong Kong.

Trouble is, the restaurant is called “Saffron Colonial,” and it happens to be situated in a historically black North Portland neighborhood that’s been the nexus point for Portland’s battle over gentrification. (That’s when rich people come in and start forcing out the traditional inhabitants — you know, sort of like colonialism.)

So, how’s that working out?

Have you been yearning for the days of yesteryear, when the white, impeccably dressed Englishman stood on a hill, surveyed someone else’s land and said, “Yes, I think I’ll take it!” and then took a sip of his tea and a bite of his biscuit, and spit the whole thing out on the head of the young native boy shining his shoes because it wasn’t lukewarm enough? [Willamette Week, March 17th]

“I am not sure what landmarks could make up for putting a “British empire” restaurant on the street. A restaurant that symbolizes how white people conquered Black and Brown people. On a street that “conquered” Black people by pushing them out. If that is not a giant middle finger to the Black community, I am not sure what is.” [Portland-based blogger Phmelody, March 15th]

“..for many of us, colonialism is not a cute dress up game or a brunch theme. Colonialism is about being told that we, as people of color, are lesser human beings because of the foods we eat, the traditions we follow, and the people we love. I can’t imagine what it would be like to dine with my father at Krantz’s restaurant, a man who was born in British controlled Tanzania.” [A Portland journalist on Medium, March 18]

A protest called Stop Romanticizing Colonialism! involving an estimated 75 people took place at Saffron Colonial on Saturday, March 19, and the protesters wrote an open letter to bakery-owner Sally Krantz. Among its demands, it lists an apology from Krantz and for Krantz to rename the bakery and restaurant. … Following the controversy, Ristretto Roasters, a local roaster with three locations, has severed ties with Saffron Colonial Bakery. According to Willamette Week, Ristretto Roasters will no longer sell baked goods from Saffron Colonial Bakery, and Ryan Cross, Director of Wholesale for Ristretto, said, “Since they released their colonial branding, we’ve been in the process of dealing with the repercussions of it.” [Eater Portland, March 23]

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