Gone Viral

A Café Took ‘African’ Off Its Sign After Too Many People Asked About Ebola

“African” or not, it’s still the same ingredients, people. Photo: Mama Ti’s/Facebook

Just as it’s a bad time to be a chocolate-maker named ISIS, it’s inopportune to be a restaurant focused on Liberia, where Ebola transmission is widespread. And so it has come to pass that the owner of Mama Ti’s African Kitchen — one of a few sources of Jollof rice and cassava leaf in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota — has been affected by Ebola sensationalism to the point, she says, that people “are even afraid to shake our hands.”. Even though the Minnesota Department of Health has explained, in flyers and elsewhere, “you CAN’T get Ebola” from food, business has cratered more than 50 percent, she says, forcing her to slowly but surely introduce bland-sounding American classics. “Before it helped bring people in,” Kellita Whisnant says. “Now it’s scaring people away.”

The real clincher is the sign out front, which Whisnant broke down this weekend and taped over:

For the record, Whisnant says, her “beef is from Minnesota.” She imagines Mama Ti’s has three months left if business doesn’t pick up, by which point they’ll have gone full American anyway, serving Buffalo wings and deep-frying everything. “On the menu next week,” Whisnant says, “is Philly cheesesteaks.”


A Café Took ‘African’ Off Its Sign After Too Many People Asked About