Chinatown hotel apologizes for describing its bar as “opium den-themed”

50 Bowery

The brand spanking new 50 Bowery hotel in Chinatown has apologized after describing its bar, Green Lady, as an “opium den-themed parlor lounge.”

That wording, which came from a press release from Wagstaff Worldwide public relations, sparked enough anger from community members that a Chinatown activist, Karlin Chan, wrote an op-ed piece about it in the Bowery Boogie.

“Is the fabled “Opium Den” really an appropriate theme for a lounge in their hotel? I say HELL NO. It’s ironic that a hotel honoring the neighborhood would allow a business to highlight a negative stereotype within. In the end, is this insensitivity or racism? Is this another nail in the coffin for our hometown Chinatown?”

In its apology, Wagstaff said that “the hotel recognizes the sensitivity around the phrase, has removed the descriptor from all communications, and apologizes for using it.”

50 Bowery has tried to be inclusive of the community (hiring locals, using Chinese architectural elements, putting a Museum of China exhibit on the first floor) and honor the very important land it is set on. But as the chef of Green Lady told Eater, this whole opium den situation is a “real fuck up.” Yikes!