Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of CeviCHE, a Che Guevara themed restaurant in Little Havana we made up that serves Argentine-Cuban seafood dishes.
“Is this supposed to be funny? It is in very poor taste!” said protester Armando Villanova about the restaurant’s name as he sampled a chilled lime Tilapia dish which he admitted was itself not at all in poor taste. “Well that was lovely, but to many the underlying quality of the meal will be diminished by its packaging," said Mr. Villanova as he meekly slurped the remaining broth from his sample cup and quietly asked the restaurant’s employee for another. "I mean, why does it have to be called 'CeviCHE'?”
We asked store owner David Click about his decision to name his restaurant after the polarizing revolutionary. The 33-year-old restaurateur said that he anticipated the restaurant’s name would draw protest, but said he decided to use it and the controversy to drum up free publicity for his food. “I knew it would be controversial, but decided I could get the picketers to the restaurant with the name and then get them to come inside to try my food by giving them free samples. Those willing to open the
link door will find there is something special happening inside.”
When asked to respond to criticism that it is disreputable to “trick ” people into going to his restaurant by putting a provocative title on the building, Mr. Click took offense:
“Look, my ceviche is as good or better than any other ceviche out there. Just ask anyone who has tried it. But there are thousands of restaurants that pay huge sums of money to advertise their product. If the only way I am going to get my ceviche any attention is by putting a provocative title on the restaurant then so be it. Those who come inside will find out the ceviche is great.”
Mr. Click understands that there will always be those who will react to the restaurant's title without ever coming inside, but he says those people don’t bother him. “If someone is going to hate or react to a restaurant without ever eating inside there isn’t anything I can do about it. I’m doing this for the people who are willing to come and try what I've been making.”
And what are foodies saying about CeviCHE? Many of the protesters-turned-customers we spoke with reported that though they enjoyed most of the restaurant's offerings, certain dishes feel a bit heavy handed and on the nose.
Mr. Tidelbaum says he is aware of the criticism and is also amenable to changing the restaurant's name once the attention dies down, noting that he is considering renaming the seafood restaurant "Click's Bait" but is hesitant because "ceviCHE is just too good of a pun."