‘Aryans’ proclaim hatred of soul food
The only soul food restaurant for miles and one of the sole vestiges of African-American culture in this overwhelmingly white area was vandalized recently by a group of young white men, said employees at Wasney and Sharon’s Cookhouse on Dayton Road in Southwest Chico.
What’s worse, they said, is that the incident of vandalism, in which the letters “AOR"—taken to stand for “Aryans on the Rise"—were painted in wide, white letters on the restaurant wall, was only the latest in a pattern of harassment and threats targeting the cookhouse.
“These are some cowards we’re dealing with here,” said Ryan Cook, the son of restaurant owner Sharon Cook. “They show up in the middle of the night to write this stuff on the walls. All we’re trying to do here is sell some soul food, some barbecue.”
The vandals also painted “move” in the same paint on the restaurant’s Dumpster. In the past, the restaurant has received threatening phone calls and, once, a late-night visit by a group of white men brandishing cans of gasoline.
Restaurant employee Bonnie Sarah recalled the night when seven men in a pickup truck visited the restaurant while she and the owners were inside cleaning up for the night. When the men realized there were people inside, Sarah said, they got back in their truck and drove slowly away.
“They had two red gas cans with them,” she said. “I thought that was the night we were going to get burned out.”
Employees have also found lengths of rope left on the restaurant’s doorstep, which they take to be references to Southern-style lynching.
“This has been going on ever since we opened up. It had died down for a while,” Sarah said.
Despite the threats, the restaurant, which has existed for about six years, has also had an outpouring of good will recently from people who read or heard about the recent incident and wanted to show their support.
“We’ve had phone calls, people have sent flowers from all over, all the surrounding cities," Sarah said. "It’s not everyone that practices hate."