Tom Colicchio Changes the Name of His Restaurant After Learning of Its Racially-Charged Meaning
As the national conversation about the removal of Confederate monuments has ignited in the aftermath of the tragedy in Charlottesville, chef Tom Colicchio is making a major move to eliminate the racial connotation of his own business.
The Top Chef judge has changed the name of his New York City restaurant from Fowler & Wells to Temple Court. The move—which has been in the works for months and will cost between $50,000 and $100,000, according to the New York Times—comes after discovering that the original name has a dark past.
The restaurant located inside the Beekman Hotel in the city’s Financial District was named after a pseudoscientific institute that used to occupy the same building. Its namesake founders, Edward Fowler and Samuel Wells, subscribed to the idea of phrenology, which posited that the shape of a person’s skull was an indicator of intelligence and mental function—and was often used as a justification for slavery and discrimination.
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Times restaurant critic Pete Wells first pointed out the connection in January, and Colicchio has been plotting the name change since it came to his attention. “I don’t think it was a bad idea to start with because we didn’t have any of the information we have now,” he told the Times. “I have a fairly liberal persona and never in a million years would consider myself a racist, so it never crossed my mind.”
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The new name comes from Temple Court Building and Annex, the designated New York City landmark that occupied the same space before the Beekman Hotel took it over in 2016.