Soon-to-open restaurant Tiki Chick at 517 Amsterdam Avenue (85th Street) ran afoul of Community Board 7 last year because its sign included a caricature of a bare-breasted woman. Months later, the sign is back with a nod to modesty — a Hawaiian lei covering the lady’s chest. But the negative feedback about it hasn’t fully disappeared.
Tiki Chick is the latest spinoff from Jacob Hadjigeorgis, who also owns Jacob’s Pickles, Maison Pickle and Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. The Pickle empire is very popular in the neighborhood, and has steadily expanded with new options that often play off the same theme — comfort food, pickles, a laid-back atmosphere.
The company received some negative feedback about the original Tiki Chick sign (seen below) at a community board meeting earlier this year when it applied for a liquor license.
One attendee called it “culturally insensitive” while others objected to the bare-breasted cartoon. But adding the lei hasn’t quieted everyone. We’ve already heard one complaint from a community member that the new sign has “barely changed.”
Council Member Helen Rosenthal also criticized the sign, while supporting the restaurant’s right to use it.
“The owner of this business has complied with applicable government regulations, and it’s important to note that freedom of expression is protected in our country,” wrote Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “But we’re saddened that he’s chosen to represent a human being in such a retrograde way.”
Arsham Kamali, director of operations for Pickle Hospitality, wrote in an email to West Side Rag that the original sign “received a ton of positive feedback from friends and members of the community,” but that “we indirectly heard some negative feedback from other members of the community” and decided to change it.
“It is worth noting that when we took down the initial sign, we received some feedback from several female members of the community who were extremely disappointed that we were censoring freedom of expression by changing the sign,” he wrote. “When the new sign went up, we believe we had addressed the concerns of the community. The new sign portrays a blue tropical avatar, covered and not exposed in anyway. No part of the sign should be offensive, similar to Starbucks’ siren logo (a mythical and fictitious mermaid).”
“Tiki Chick, and Pickle Hospitality, will continue to strive to be a positive member in the UWS community, for all its members,” he added.
Last we heard, Tiki Chick will feature drinks and small plates, with some food from the kitchens of sister restaurants Jacob’s Pickles and the Lucky Pickle Dumpling. The opening date has not yet been announced.