North Berkeley neighborhood votes to get rid of 'Gourmet Ghetto' nickname
After a recent debate on a commonly used nickname for a North Berkeley neighborhood, the "Gourmet Ghetto" is no more. On Thursday morning, the North Shattuck Association gathered at a community meeting to announce its decision: for now, the name needs to go.
Public objections towards the name initially arose with Nick Cho, the co-founder of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, a coffee company that moved into the neighborhood about a month ago. Cho was at the community meeting Thursday. He told Berkeleyside that his employees, who are "90 percent non-white," found the name upsetting and confusing.
Alice Waters, the famed owner of Chez Panisse, chimed in next. "I have never liked it from the very beginning, either word," she told The Chronicle.
Banners promoting the "Gourmet Ghetto" name will be taken down, and the designation will no longer be used. However, as reported by Berkeleyside, not everyone was in favor of the decision at the community feedback meeting held on Thursday. But people's complaints were just that — complaints. The decision had already been made.
"Sometimes, you just have to make room for people to be able to express support or bellyache," said Cho. "You have to give people space to do that ... because not everyone can take to Twitter."
Heather Hensley, the Executive Director of North Shattuck Association, issued a statement to SFGATE thanking everyone for their thoughts on the subject and explaining in depth the reasoning behind the choice to change the name.
"We want all members of the larger community to feel invited and wanted in our neighborhood. In keeping with this reflection, and with respect to those who feel a strong connection to the spirit of the 'Gourmet Ghetto' name, we support dropping the moniker from our marketing and district identity banners," she wrote.
Cho is happy with the decision, but at this point, he says he is mostly "exhausted."
"As I said in the meeting, we don't want to be known for this — we want to be known for great coffee and providing a great community space," he said, referring to Wrecking Ball Coffee. "But at the same time, we think in order for all of us to contribute to the America that we want to see in the future, it requires doing things that are difficult or challenging or risk our own comfort."
A new name for the "Gourmet Ghetto" has yet to be decided.
"We hope this will start an organic evolution to a new nickname, but in the meantime will revert back to northshattuck.org on the web, and @noshaberkeley on Instagram and Twitter," said Hensley.
This story was updated at 2:42 p.m. to add a statement from the North Shattuck Association.
Madeline Wells is an SFGate editorial assistant. Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @madwells22