‘Woke’ restaurant in Coventry ‘crazy busy’ amid debate over name – CT Insider

COVENTRY — The new Woke restaurant has been so busy, owner Carmen Quiroga said Tuesday, that she hasn’t had a chance to ask customers how they heard about the place.

Residents in Coventry, a town of about 12,000 people in Tolland County, say some equated the name with liberal ideology and vowed to boycott the place before it even opened. Online comments, however, have been mostly positive.

“Super cool name,” one woman posted on the Coventry CT Citizen’s Open Forum. “I’d rather have my breakfast with ‘woke’ people any day of the week. Love and acceptance over hate all day.”

Quiroga, who owned another restaurant in Granby, said Tuesday she is thankful for the support.

“I see the support is here in the town because we are crazy busy,” she said.

When she chose the name, with help from her son, Quiroga said she meant to convey, “Wake up and have a coffee.”  The immigrant to the U.S. from Mexico said she had no idea about conservatives’ use of the word as a slam on liberal overreach.

“I’m a Mexican,” she said. “I don’t know anything about what ‘woke’ means to some people.”

Commenters on Reddit had fun with the controversy.

“Boycott Folgers! Their slogan is literally about waking up!” one person wrote.

“Boycott mornings!” another person said.

“Hey, if I had a free method of keeping (expletives) out of my business, I’d probably sign right up,” another reader wrote.

Dictionary.com defines the adjective “woke” as “having or marked by an active awareness of systemic injustices and prejudices, especially those involving the treatment of ethnic, racial or sexual minorities;” and alternately as “Disparaging of or relating to a liberal progressive orthodoxy, especially promoting inclusive policies or ideologies that welcome or embrace ethnic, racial, or sexual minorities.”

Judging by recent elections, Coventry citizens cannot be pigeonholed by their political views

“It’s a very purple town,” Republican town council member John French said of the local political divide.

French said he is among those who is “not a big fan of ‘woke’ whatsoever.” But French said he would still patronize the restaurant since the owner did not realize the alternate meaning of the word.

At least one trio of food retailers claims to be proud of the “woke” banner. The three owners of The Woke Truck in Los Angeles, according to a recent article in Vice, have fielded some vitriol, but they boldly declare their political leanings right on the menu, with a section of dishes labeled “Anarchy” and another called “American Assimilation.” 

“We are three people in a polyamorous relationship who live together and own a business. We are Irish, Black, and Asian; [we] sell fusion food and teach history at the same time,” said Kashmir Hughes, who is one of the owners. “And we use our business to give back to the community. We hire employees fresh out of rehab, train teen mothers for the job and we do stuff for the community, as well.”

And then there are the controversies over “woke” menu items commonly associated with vegetarians or vegans. Cracker Barrel, not the kind of place you would expect to see a breakfast gathering of PETA members, faced fierce backlash from customers last year after adding a plant-based sausage to the menu beside Grandpa’s Country Fried Breakfast and the Bacon ‘N Egg Hashbrown Casserole.

“You just lost the customer base, congratulations on being woke and going broke,” one person wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

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