Last weekend, both locations of Shalom Y’all, the casual Middle Eastern-themed restaurants, as well as vegan restaurant Aviv’s new Pearl location were vandalized. Spray-painted across the windows and brick facades were phrases like “Free Palestine,” “Yuppie,” “Falafel is from Palestine,” and “Hummus is not Israeli.” While neither restaurant group identifies purely as Israeli cuisine, both have used the term in the past to describe themselves, and Aviv’s chef and owner Tal Caspi is from Israel. A daytime manager for Aviv told the Oregonian, who broke the story, that the restaurant was spray-painted during business hours on Saturday night. Shalom Y’all’s two locations were hit early Sunday morning with similar phrases.
A spokesperson for Sesame Collective—the relatively nascent group behind Shalom Y’all as well as Bless Your Heart Burger, Mediterranean Exploration Company, and the newly opened Y’alla—told Eater PDX, “We are incredibly disheartened by these actions. We are committed to operating inclusive spaces, and do not tolerate messages of hate or racism in any form. We are so thankful for the outpouring of support we have received from the community over the last 24 hours. We encourage you to help us in supporting the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime.” While Shalom Y’all originally branded itself as Israeli street food, that term was dropped when Sesame Collective formed and rebranded out of Toro Bravo Inc this summer.
So far, Aviv could not be reached for comment and has not commented publicly online. A manager at the restaurant, speaking with the Oregonian, said that he didn’t think owner Caspi “wants to be involved in the politics side of it.”
This is only the latest in a line of recent activism-propelled vandalism. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, SE Hawthorne Boulevard saw blocks of its stores and restaurants with graffiti reading “Stolen Land” and “Land Back.” Earlier this summer, a small fleet of Toro Bravo Inc vans was also spray-painted. This incident led to a Facebook outburst and harassment campaign by co-owner John Gorham, which in turn led to a schism in the company: Sesame Collective moved away from the Gorhams, and the Gorhams kept and eventually closed the Tasty and Toro Bravo group of restaurants. Chefstable will be reviving the Tasty brand without the Gorhams later this year; John and Renee Gorham have since left the city.
See some images of — and reactions to — the graffiti below, here:
Looks like the eastside branch of the Shalom Y’all restaurant in Portland was also hit with targeted graffiti last night— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) January 11, 2021
Messages include “on your hands” and “enjoy your sh— meal” pic.twitter.com/HvLqRGtfIn
Shalom Ya'll Restaurant, a Jewish eatery In Portland Oregon, was horrifically vandalized - while I agree with the need for a free Palestine- this attack is hateful bigoted and fucking wrong. This is not antifascism it’s the fucking opposite this is disgusting pic.twitter.com/ZgVfI838aJ— leftist (@luistheleftist) January 11, 2021
• Sesame Collective [Official]
• Aviv [Official]
• Portland Israeli restaurants vandalized with ‘Free Palestine’ graffiti [the Oregonian]
• John Gorham Steps Away From Restaurant Empire After Threatening Social Media Posts Surface [EPDX]
• Inside Yalla, Sesame Collective’s First Restaurant Since the Toro Bravo Split [EPDX]