Apparently the Russian-esque name alone is creating harassment issues for the East Bay caviar company with an outpost at the SF Ferry Building, which has to keep reminding people that they are not a Russian company or affiliated with Russia in any way.
There has long been a substantial Russian population in the Bay Area, many of whom fled because they didn’t like it there, and are obviously carrying some extra emotional burden since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But others are carrying that burden too, even with no connection to Russia whatsoever. Maybe they have names that just pretty much sounds Russian, which is enough to set off the trolls.
And the trolls have apparently been set off on Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, which has a main facility in Concord and a Ferry Building location, as the Chronicle reports that Tsar Nicoulai employees are being harassed because of the company’s Russian-sounding name.
“There’s nothing Russian about Tsar Nicoulai,” company president Ali Bolourchi told the Chronicle. “Captain Crunch wasn’t a pirate. It’s just a brand association.”
The company originated in San Francisco in 1984, and has no connections to Russia. “We are 100% American owned and operated,” the company said in an exasperated Facebook post Wednesday. “Our brand name was chosen by our Swedish founders. It is a play on their grandfather’s name with a Caspian feel.”
“Back in 1984 when the brand was established, USA farmed caviar was perceived as lower quality compared to its European/Caspian counterparts,” they continued. “Hence Tsar Nicoulai Caviar was born.”
Per the Chron, the Concord facility received a letter last month reading “Go back to Russia! Or suffer severe consequences!” A server at the Ferry Building location tells the Chronicle he is often shouted at by passersby saying “Go back to Russia” and “You don’t belong here in this country.”
The caviar shop has tried the obvious solutions, running Ukrainian fundraisers and putting up Ukrainian flags. But sometimes the name is just too much for people to get past, not unlike the music festival Burger Boogaloo struggling with association to the far-right Boogaloo militia group. (The festival is now called Mosswood Meltdown, referring to the park in Oakland where it takes place.)
“The resentment to everything Russian will continue,” Ukrainian-born food blogger Anna Voloshyna told the Chronicle. “They will get this association for a long time.”
Related: Small Businesses in SF’s Little Russia Getting Hassled for Being Russian-Owned [SFist]
Image: Sarah S. via Yelp