Cloud Davidson told the Corvallis Gazette-Times that he trekked to Hawaii every summer when he was a kid, as his uncle, aunt and cousins lived on the big island — and Hapuna Beach was down the street.
Thus the name of Hapuna Kahuna Tiki Bar & Kitchen, which Davidson opened in downtown Corvallis, Oregon, on June 22, the paper said.
“A lot of this has to do with family,” he told the Gazette-Times. “That was a big part of my childhood.”
But it turns out Davidson’s Tiki bar would have a very short life.
Local residents of Polynesian descent — including folks with the Oregon State University Asian and Pacific Cultural Center — didn’t like Hapuna Kahuna’s Hawaiian name, cartoonish Tiki decorations and that customers were handed plastic leis, Davidson told the paper.
In other words, cultural appropriation.
“I unintentionally made a mistake and I’m very sorry,” Davidson told the Gazette-Times on Friday, adding that he planned on closing up shop Sunday, getting rid of all Tiki decorations and reopening Sunday night as a simple extension to the adjacent bar Davidson also owns.
— Democrat-Herald (@dhnews) July 1, 2017
“I’m very sympathetic to the issues that were brought up to me,” he told the paper. “And I’m not for a moment going to tell a person of color that they’re wrong for how they feel.”
But Davidson also told the paper some Hawaiians and other Polynesians enjoyed his Hapuna Kahuna Tiki Bar & Kitchen and wanted it to stay open.
More from the Gazette-Times:
A local Facebook forum also had numerous comments about the situation, including questions of whether it was appropriate for chefs to cook ethnic food that wasn’t from their ancestry, such as a Korean chef running a sushi joint, since the cuisine is Japanese; discussion on the origins of Tiki “culture” as an inauthentic fantasy mashup of tropical influences, and how there are Tiki bars in Hawaii; and comments on the evolution of Hawaiian cuisine to include items from numerous cultures, including those of Asian and Western countries.
The paper said Davidson also penned an apologetic Facebook post in which he noted, “With a heavy heart I have to admit I made a huge mistake with the Tiki bar. The community has spoken and I now understand that the Tiki bar is a form of cultural appropriation. This is not okay, and I am more than happy to change.”
“I am so very sorry that I offended anyone, as that was never my intention,” he added, the Gazette-Times said. “I feel awful about all of it.”
The Tiki bar closure comes a little more than a month after Portland’s Kooks Burritos — founded by two white women — shut down amid cultural appropriation complaints.
(H/T: Heat Street)