For Americans, the Ebola crisis in West Africa is not an imminent threat. But for one restaurant owner in Minnesota, it has resulted in a 50 percent loss of sales. According to Fox News, Kellita Whisnant has been running Mama Ti's African Kitchen in Brooklyn Park, Minn. for three years, and for the first time, sales are down.
Whisnant told the local Minneapolis-St.Paul's news station this weekend that the African name used to bring people in, but now the restaurant gets "the jokes, the ridicule." One customer even came in to ask if the restaurant had Ebola, the deadly disease that is killing thousands in West Africa and has afflicted many health workers that have volunteered to help in the region.
With the Ebola stigma still hurting sales, Whisnant is thinking of changing the concept entirely. Will a menu of Philly cheesesteaks and chicken wings dispel misconceptions? Or will a new campaign by the Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Division help? For now, Whisnant hopes that blocking out the "African" in the name from the restaurant's facade will help.
There have been no cases of Ebola in the midwest.