Woke’s no joke: breakfast cafe’s name awakens US conservative ire

<span>Photograph: Wera Rodsawang/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Wera Rodsawang/Getty Images

A Connecticut restaurant has been forced to defend itself in the face of conservative anger over its name: “Woke”.

The owner of the newly opened restaurant, Carmen Quiroga, said she had intended to communicate “Wake up and have a coffee” when she named her business in Coventry, Connecticut.

Instead, Quiroga opened a hornets’ nest, the Connecticut Post reported.

Several people in a Coventry Facebook group complained about the restaurant being called Woke, a word which has become a derogatory term among the right wing for people, concepts and even cartoon chocolate spokespeople who allegedly have liberal leanings.


Quiroga, who emigrated to the US 17 years ago, told the Connecticut Post she was unaware that the term could be interpreted in such fashion.

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

The term clearly meant a lot to quite a lot of people.

The Coventry town council chairwoman, Lisa Thomas, told the Washington Post that about a dozen people had criticized the restaurant in the Facebook group.

“Naming it ‘woke.’ Is that really such a good idea?” one commenter posted, adding that the name of the restaurant would turn off potential Republican visitors.

The furore was such that the administrator of the Facebook group – the Coventry CT Citizen’s Open Forum – was forced to step in to defend the restaurant which has the full name “Woke breakfast and coffee” and the tagline “You woke up and made the right choice.”

“Just a word of warning, any more ridiculous comments about the name of the new breakfast place in town will be deleted,” Tonya Landrie Ohlund wrote, according to the Connecticut Post.

“If you are that close-minded that you can’t grasp that the name is referring to the fact that it is a breakfast establishment and nothing more, then just keep that to yourself and move on,” she added.

“It’s disgusting to read that residents are going to refuse to support a business that is trying to grow in our awesome little town because you don’t like what they’ve named it, without even knowing anything about how they chose that name. Just stop.”

Happily for Quiroga, who said her son designed Woke’s logo, which has a fried egg in place of the “O”, residents of Coventry rallied to support the new business.

For the restaurant’s opening in mid-January, visitors faced an hour-long wait, Quiroga told the Washington Post. Demand was such that she ran out of ingredients, with many customers comforting her over the backlash.

There was support on Woke’s Facebook page, too, with one person writing:

“I literally can’t believe how many people are too dim to understand you’re called woke because you’re a BREAKFAST RESTAURANT and it’s a cute name.”

The poster added: “Your food looks DELICIOUS and we’re headed to it for breakfast asap!”