Medford bar and grill under fire for ‘racist’ sign

MEDFORD, Ore. — A Medford bar and grill is coming under fire and it’s owners are being called racist, after a controversial marquee display went viral.

*WARNING* People may find the language in this story offensive.

The Trophy Club Bar and Grill recently had it’s marquee say “China Virus Hours” while referencing COVID-19 regulations.

Its since been removed following public outrage.

“Every time anything happens, you know, having to do with Asia, Asian-Americans usually take the brunt,” said 4th generation Asian-American, Ken Narasaki.

While visiting from Los Angeles, Narasaki says he was shocked, angered, and offended after seeing the marquee.

Narasaki took a photo of the marquee, posting it to social media. It took off on Facebook and Twitter.

“I thought people should know this business was run by a racist person,” said Narasaki.

He says he called the owner to explain why the sign was so offensive.

“When I called, he answered in a ching chong accent saying ‘Hong Kong chopstick factory, why don’t you suck my *REDACTED*. That kinda tells you all you need to know about him and whether or not it was just a joke,” Narasaki said.

The phrase “China Virus” has often been used this past year in connection to COVID-19.

Stop AAPI Hate, a campaign designed to document COVID-19 incidents of hate involving Asian-Americans, says its received over 2,800 reports of hate from 47 states – including violent assaults.

I spoke with one of the bar owners who says she has no comment around the uproar of the sign. They have taken the digital marquee display down, but they do still have signs on their front door and in their building stating their ‘China Virus Rules.’

As a result of the controversial sign, popular website and app Yelp, is no longer allowing people to leave reviews for the business.

Yelp says on an alert, “…racism has no place on Yelp and we unequivocally reject racism in any form.”

Katherine Spence, an Ashland resident of Asian-American and Arawak Indian descent, says the marquee was terrifying to see.

“It gave me like, for the first time in my entire 7 years of being here, I genuinely really felt afraid that racists were willing to be really public,” said Spence.

To her, there’s no question what needs to come next.

“They should take the signs down and they should use that marquee to apologize to the community, for sure,” Spence said.

The owner tells me she was upset with another media outlet’s story and has no comment.

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Mariah Mills
NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.