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Chi-RAQ Cuisines' Name Creating Controversial Buzz For South Side Restaurant

Is the name in good taste?

Chi-RAQ Cuisines
Chi-RAQ Cuisines
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

When Antwan Jeffries re-named his South Shore restaurant Chi-RAQ Cuisines earlier this month, it drew a variety of reactions. Chi-Raq is the controversial label some have dubbed Chicago, acknowledging violent crime and comparing it to war-torn Iraq. Spike Lee eventually made a movie with the name, angering Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city officials who worried about the city's perception, especially when it came to drawing tourists.

Jeffries spoke to CBS Chicago about the restaurant's name. Before the switch, it was known as Super Fish Plus over at 1945 E. 79th St. Jeffries said he thought about somehow incorporating "Chitown" into the new name, but the 21 year old said Chiraq was how he and his friends grew up calling the city.

The name change also came with menu changes. Jeffries incorporated more grilled items opposed to the fry-heavy menu that Super Fish and its predecessor JJ Fish serve. He serves Jamaican jerk chicken, wings and sandwiches.

"My favorite part is giving back to the community and making hungry customers satisfied in a healthy environment," he said.

He told CBS Chicago he graduated from culinary school, and he wore a Le Cordon Bleu chefs coat during the interview. It's a stark contrast from the past he mentioned to the television station, claiming he was once part of the problem and now he's the solution. Jeffries moved around as a youngster, growing up in Lawndale and Garfield Park, as well as on the South Side.

If it's attention he wanted, Jeffries has gotten it. He even said that Steve Harvey's folks have called him about the controversial name. Predictably, not everyone's thrilled with the name switch, as one resident told CBS Chicago, "It's bringing back negative, and that's what we have to relive. And we don't want to relive that, we want to go on."