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Restaurant Closes Due to Biased Complaint

The northeast Portland location of Pho Gabo, a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant, was forced to close after the restaurant received an anonymous complaint about the smell of the food. The closure prompted swift condemnation from five state representatives of Vietnamese descent in the Portland area.

In response, Portland city commissioner Carmen Rubio instructed the Bureau of Development Services to pause investigating any more odor complaints until the city’s regulations can be evaluated.

The problem stems from the fact that, as currently written, if an inspector travels to the location and can smell anything food-related, they’re required to write it up. The city’s enforcement structure privileges the complaint of one anonymous person over the legion of satisfied customers patronizing the restaurant, which has been in that location for over three decades.

Five Vietnamese American state representatives issued a joint statement: “We believe that, as currently written and enforced, the city’s odor code is discriminatory and not objective by any known standards. We stand ready to work with Commissioner Rubio and ensure that city code is fair and reasonable, and ultimately the city of Portland retains the vibrant food culture celebrating our diverse community.”

A statement from an organization advocating for Asians and Pacific Islanders read, “Long used as a tactic for displacing and removing Asian communities, olfactory racism has deep roots in this country dating back hundreds of years. With this closure, our community is losing a vital small business and reinforcing harmful stereotypes and tropes around Asians, our food, culture, and right to belong.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Selfish behavior can potentially generate great loss for a community; generosity and humility, however, can multiply the blessings within a community.

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