CROWN HEIGHTS — A sign for a Crown Heights eatery urging passersby to "stop and frisk your appetite" has made some locals sick to their stomachs.
The owners of the Nostrand Avenue restaurant Chop Chop Grub Shop had to yank down a handwritten sign using the controversial NYPD tactic as a catchphrase for battling hunger on their store's outdoor sandwich board sign after it sparked outrage. The sign was originally reported by Brokelyn.
"It was supposed to be like ‘stop’ and get a drink; ‘stop’ and get something to eat,” explained Chop Chop co-owner Malcolm Sanz, 36, who runs the restaurant at 638 Nostrand Ave. near Bergen Street with Otis Lockett, 30.
Lockett added: “It’s topical and it’s something people are familiar with, and I thought it was something that would catch people’s attention."
Lockett said the backlash "took me by surprise. I didn’t expect that anyone would take that from the sign."
More than 11,400 people were stopped by police in Crown Heights' 77th Precinct in 2011, according to NYPD statistics.
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In the wake of the sign, the restaurant, which serves American fare including $12 lobster rolls, has been bombarded by calls accusing them of being "racist," they said. But the owners said Thursday they never meant to offend anyone.
“The only thing we wanted to promote was good food and good service, and unfortunately this has been an enormous distraction from what we are trying to do. It’s absolutely regrettable and we apologize,” Lockett said.
Sanz and Lockett, who both live in Crown Heights, said they took the sign down on Sunday after a woman called to complain about it — but said their phone was ringing off the hook days later with complaints.
“We didn’t mean to offend anyone,” said Sanz. “Community is extremely important to us.”
Among the critics was an Ebony.com editor who called for a boycott.
“We aren’t eating here. Chop Chop Grub Shop is in Crown Heights, where Black bodies are routinely violated by the police,” Ebony.com editor Jamilah Lemieux tweeted.
Longtime Crown Heights resident Nucomme Davis-Walker, 35, called the sign "insensitive."
"Who makes fun of stop-and-frisk as a business? You're not a comedian on a stage. Your business should be reflective of your brand and who you are," she said.