When Mitchell Ciohon decided to name his food truck business "Gypsy Taco" (and later "Gypsy Burger"), he was not aware that the term "gypsy" was a derogatory term for a group of people called the Romani or Roma while living, primarily, in Eastern Europe.
Ciohon says he considered the name to be synonymous with "traveler" and because that’s what he did earlier in his career – travel around the country learning about cuisine and the food truck trade – he found the name fitting.
"I didn’t understand the negative commentary, but I have researched it a lot now and I understand," says Ciohon. "I don’t want to be hurtful to anyone and I know saying ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I didn't know" isn't enough. So we are going to change the names of both businesses."
At this time, he does not have a new name in mind but made this post on Facebook:
Dear friends and customers. I would like to announce that I will be working to rebrand my company effective immediately. It has come to my attention that the name around which I have created a brand is offensive to the people from which it stems. While not my intent, the name I chose to represent me as a chef was founded upon an inaccurate definition that disregarded the long history and plight of the Romani people. The local community has spoken and I have made it my mission to listen. I apologize to those I have offended. It was not my intent. I have always stood behind my company and my product. To proudly continue doing so, I willingly accept the blame for my lack of education on the matter at hand, and absolutely wish to use that which I have learned to reimagine my company as one that is inclusive to all. I ask only that all affected respect the time and capital necessary in the rebranding of a business. The process cannot be done overnight, but rest easy knowing it begins now with this.
Yours, Chef Mitch
Although the business name was called out for its offensive name since its inception, it received even more feedback since it was widely reported that Gypsy Taco – which is currently a food truck permanently parked on the patio of Boone & Crockett – would move to a new, larger space in the former Wherehouse, 818 S. Water St.
This is good news for many, including Nina (last name withheld by request) of the local Roma community.
"I and other members of Milwaukee's Roma community have been deeply troubled by the use of this racial slur in local business names, especially when we see a 'Hate Has No Home Here' sign in the window," she says. "We are pleased to finally be included in the the anti-racist stance of these business owners, and see this change as an opportunity to further educate Milwaukee about Romani issues."
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.