Campaign Countering The Anti-French Sentiment
An advertisment appearing in the community newspapers of the Manhattan
Media group encouraged New Yorkers to not yield to anti-French feelings.
New York City gets its strength from our diversity, and there
is room for everyone at New Yorks collective dinner table,
reads the advertisement. We are all New Yorkers and the boycott
only hurts us and our neighbors.
According to the office of tourism NYC & Company, certain French
restaurants suffered from the relations between Paris and Washington
but no organized boycott was noted. This agency, a part of the municipality
of New York, worries about the impact that could happen against
French establishments which present a vital economical sector.
New York Citys restaurants generate $12.5 billion of the
citys revenues, and provide more than 150,000 jobs.
The initiative was presented on April 10 in the restaurant The
Circus 2000 in the presence of Cristyne L. Nicholas, director of
NYC & Company, Tim Zagat, the restaurant guide editor, and a
certain number of French restaurant owners in New York (Rita Jamet
for The Caravel, Jacques Capsouto for Capsouto Brothers, Sylvain
Fareri for The Métaierie, Éric Ripert, chef of the
Bernardin, and David Fléau, Chef of the Lutèce).
The restaurant owners present in the Circus testified to have met
customers who refused to be served French wine or who were reluctant
to eat in places with French connections.
Is it due to an eventual boycott, an economical crisis, or to the
war in Iraq? French restaurant owners do not believe at all in the
first reason but evoke the effects of the two others that affect
not only their businesses, but the whole industry.
Claude Godard, the owner of Madison Bistro, noted that the number
of dinner and weekends clients has decreased because those who live
outside Manhattan (Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey) are going out less
lately. People are anxious about tomorrow but things change
very fast. Weve noticed a recovery since the war seems to
be going in a good way, he said. The French wine created some
enemies but not the food because the dishes are prepared by
The evolution of the situation in Iraq is also noted by Jean-Paul
Picot, owner of La Bonne Soupe: The war is practically finished,
people are going out again. He assures that his restaurant
wasnt affected at all.
For several decades, he benefited from a big faithful French clientele,
but the Americans are the majority in this place that does not empty
out, notably at lunch time. He serves only French wine that nobody
seems to refuse, including American customers.
However, the economy has well changed. Robert Arbor, of the restaurant
Le Gamin, quotes some very concrete consequences: the deduction
of businesses general expenses is explained by the restrictions
in credit cards use.
Now, when people come to eat in groups, they share the bill
and unfortunately they come less often. Besides, a big number of
young people who took advantage of the Internet bubble, or of the
entertainment world, have lost their jobs.
Arbor counts among its customers a majority of artists who have
shown their solidarity and are more worried about the smoking
ban than of the boycott of the war in Iraq.
Lucien Bahaj, of Lucien restaurant, has also artiste clientele,
actors and intellectuals who are Francophile; therefore they are
natural opponents of all boycotts. « I didnt notice
any anti-French feelings, notes Lucien.
John-Claude Lincy, owner of Pierre au Tunnel with his wife Jacqueline,
have a more shady analysis. Local Broadway and business clients
remained faithful, even if they refuse sometimes to order French
wine. But the number of tourists, coming from Canada or from other
United States cities, decreased.
Fortunately, those who had anti-French feelings are limited: a
group of six persons exceptionally canceled their reservation the
other day because once of them did not want to come to a French
restaurant and the person who made the reservation excused for the
cancellation while giving the reason.
John-Claude fears that the current discomfort doesnt pass
quickly while specifying that the negative comments on the French
position are counterbalanced by support messages.
Translated from French by Elias Saber
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