LocalBoyz management writes down different name for customer despite clear disapproval

Triage Counselor Xia Wang in front of Local Boyz Hawaiian Cafe directly across from Oregon State’s Kearney Hall. Recently, Wang allegedly experienced discrimination when her name was purposefully changed to a “more American” sounding name for her order.

Angela Tam, News Contributor

Correction: The caption of the photo for this story originally said “experienced discrimination” rather than “allegedly experienced discrimination”. This mistake has been corrected.

Clarification: This story was unclear as to whether or not a name was written on Wang’s order. The LocalBoyz employee’s did not actually write down a name on the order, despite allegedly offering three different “American” names while on the phone with Wang. 

A claim was made by an Oregon State University faculty member on Nov. 1 regarding an incident of racial bias in which the employees of LocalBoyz allegedly replaced her name with an “easier, American” name. 

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On Oct. 22, OSU Triage Counselor Xia Wang called in an order to Corvallis, Ore. restaurant LocalBoyz. Upon pick-up, a different name was used despite Wang specifying against a different name prior to picking up the order. A tip was placed by Wang to The Daily Barometer regarding the details of the incident.

After ordering her food on the phone, Wang gave the person receiving the call — in this case, the manager — her name before spelling it out. However, the manager did not write down her name. Instead, he offered her choices of other names, such as “Mary, Megan or Maiden.” 

Wang rejected these names, asserting that she wanted to use her name and spelling it out for the owner over the phone. 

“My initial reaction after the phone call was confusion,” Wang said. “I was thinking, ‘why? what’s wrong?’” 

When Wang picked up her order, she had expected the order to be labeled with her name but it was not. As such, she told the staff member working at the counter that it’s not okay for the owner to make a name for customers’ orders. 

The LocalBoyz staff member, an Oregon State University student, allegedly laughed it off before seeming surprised when Wang discussed the issue with them seriously. Wang said she felt especially frustrated knowing that an OSU student contributed to the discrimination.

“After interacting with the staff member, I was even more concerned,” Wang said. “It seems that there is a cultural problem in the workplace.” 

When asked to respond on the matter, manager Garry Weyhrich spoke on behalf of his and LocalBoyz’s actions. 

“Let me apologize for my staff if we offended anyone by calling them by the wrong name,” Weyhrich said via email. “We at LocalBoyz strive to the best we can under the circumstances. We deal with over 300 orders a day both by phone and in person. It is difficult to hear and understand everything that is said due to cell phone reception, speakerphones, masks and plexiglass barriers.” 

Following the incident, Wang also held several signs in front of the complex building that contains the LocalBoyz establishment — along with other establishments, protesting the act of replacing names in favor of more American-sounding names. 

According to Wang, several people passed by, all of white ethnicity. Some asked what had happened, and Wang explained the situation to them. They all seemed to express that it wasn’t okay, but Wang said she believes they didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. Wang then decided to explain the situation differently to aid in understanding. 

“Imagine your name is Ben, and some people say that they don’t like the name ‘Ben,’” Wang explained. “So instead, they tell you to think of another name to use around them, like Peter or John. How would you feel about that?” 

Wang said she believes that studies surrounding concepts of white privilege and diversity should also focus on specific details such as names. Wang emphasized how she feels that names seem relatively simple in the grand scheme of the field of ethnic studies, but these basic discussions are significant in these understandings. 

Within the scope of the situation, Wang has received support from within the OSU community through several coworkers. 

Ellen Davis, a trauma specialist at OSU, was at first angered by the fact that someone would rename Wang because they either didn’t have the desire to work at trying to say it, their pride caused them to worry about saying it wrong, or they have biases against people of other ethnicities. 

“I was sad for Xia and others who experience things like this far too often,” Davis said via email. “I was sad that anyone would think it was okay to just say to her that her name wasn’t good there; that she would be known by the name they decided to give her. Parents name children, and again, that is an erasure of her unique individuality and personhood.” 

Weyhrich stated that LocalBoyz trains all employees to be sensitive to all the needs of their customers, and they regret the unfortunate experience and apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused. 

Wang recognizes that during business hours, restaurants may be rushing and preoccupied with other orders. 

“Still, slow down one minute,” Wang said. “Get people’s names right, and you’re respecting the many other backgrounds that come to the restaurant. Focus on respect rather than the money.”

Corvallis City Councillor of Ward 4, Barbara Bull, stated that although she sincerely apologizes for the incident having happened multiple times in Corvallis, the incident does not rise to any kind of crime to her knowledge. 

However, Bull said this behavior is unacceptable. 

“Corvallis aspires to be a city that honors diversity, and so we would like to discourage this behavior, and/or encourage behavior that is more respectful,” Bull said via email. “Toward that end, we have initiated work on Hate/Bias Incident reporting. It’s important that we as Council and staff know about it, and it’s also important that people who encounter this kind of behavior know that we are trying to make things better.”