Noodle Bar Pop-Up Prompts Concerns About Racial Insensitivity

Shawn Darragh
Shawn Darragh Photo: Roundeye Noodle Bar

By most accounts yesterday’s second Roundeye Noodle Bar pop-up was a smash hit. More than 250 guests eager for a taste of Ben Puchowitz’s and Shawn Darragh’s ramen and noodle dishes turned out, and with a more streamlined reservation process, few were left waiting more than a half hour. Still, not everyone’s happy about it. Helen Gym, Vice President of the Board for Asian Americans United, has expressed concern over the pop-up’s racially charged name. “I don’t think that if you want to create a hip joint and be in a diverse place like Center City, that that’s really the best way to market yourselves,” Gym told Grub. “It’s extremely insensitive racial language that’s really passe. It’s not a hip term.”

Shawn Darragh says that he and Puchowitz never had any intentions of insulting anyone. He says that they chose Roundeye Noodle Bar as dig at themselves, which they’ve described as “two white boys from the suburbs” with a mutual appreciation for ramen. “We never intended the name be perceived as racist in any way,” Darragh told Grub. “It was kind of us joking around about ourselves. We never wanted to offend anyone.”

Going forward, he and Puchowitz expect to make their noodle bar concept a permanent fixture on Philly’s dining landscape. He says they’ve secured backing for the project and are looking for a location. Though it’s unlikely they will continue using the Roundeye name.

“We’re taken aback by it right now,” Darragh added. “We never meant to insult anyone. We’re definitely taking whether we will continue using the name into consideration right now.”

Earlier: Details Emerge on the Second Roundeye Noodle Bar Pop-Up

Noodle Bar Pop-Up Prompts Concerns About Racial Insensitivity