George Kasar of Sterling Heights speaks with Shekeynina Butler of Detroit and her children Zaria Johnson, 10, left, and Stephon Williams, 18, Tuesday at his new restaurant named 'The Bomb' in Eastpointe. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
Eastpointe — For years, Syrian immigrant George Kasar has dreamed of opening a restaurant with “awesome” food.
But when people discovered Kasar had named his Middle Eastern/American restaurant “The Bomb,” it sparked a wave of conversation.
The restaurant in the 16700 block of E. Nine Mile won’t open for at least another week, but the phone is already ringing off the hook. Many calls are from the media asking about the seemingly incendiary name, which is slang for something someone considers to be really good.
“Oh, my God, the phone keeps ringing,” said Rana Kasar, George’s wife of only a year. “It’s become such a big deal. We’re getting both positive and negative responses to the name. I’ve insisted to George that we change the name, but he says there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Warren David, executive director of Arabamerica.com — a digital media company that acts as a cultural bridge between Arabs, Arab-Americans and the public — pretty much agrees.
“My thinking is that it’s not the best name in the world but we have to respect what he wants to call it. He thinks it’s acceptable and it is,” David said.
To David, the problem is the negative perception many in America have of Arabs, Arab-Americans and Arab culture.
“There is a stereotype that denigrates Arab-Americans,” David said. “We are either billionaires, bombers or belly dancers. There’s a long history of it in politics, the media and history. Would there be headlines about this if an Irish person had opened a pub called The Bomb. Or an Italian?
“There are other restaurants with the name ‘bomb’ in them, but nobody says, ‘Wow, that’s violent. How could they open that?’ ”
Among restaurants with the name “bomb” are: The Bomb Bomb Bar B Q in Philadelphia; Da Bomb Sports Grill in Lithonia, Ga., as well as the Chili Bomb Restaurant in Fairfield, Conn., where “bomb technicians build your lunch.”
Rana Kasar said her husband worked for years as a chef in Syria before coming to the U.S.
“He doesn’t do just Middle Eastern food,” said Rana, who is Chaldean-American. “He does Italian, American, Chaldean and Mexican. One of the items on our menu is the Bomb Fajita. We call it the bomb because it’s spicy.”
Rana said she and George haven’t yet received any calls from Arab-American organizations that might be concerned about the possible negative connotations the restaurant name might generate.
“Nothing so far,” Rana said. “But my family said people will think you’re terrorists. Even my nephew said you should change it; they’re going to think there are bombs in the bathroom.”