Portland beer bar and bottle shop N.W.I.P.A. announced July 22 that it is changing its name to North West IPA. The name change comes after Black Portlander posted a Tiktok video that voiced concern about the name.
The seven-minute video—posted July 12—described a beer bar in Tiktok user @opbamiri’s neighborhood whose typeface and punctuation were modeled after the 90s hip-hop group N.W.A., whose members included entertainment giants like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.
Following links to other social media profiles, @Opbamiri appears to be a business owner named Amiri Bradley.
“I give folks the benefit of the doubt on the majority of occasions,” Bradley says in the video. “Every day when I pass this business, I internalize it as a Black-owned business. They’re playing on the N.W.A. thing and they like IPAs.”
Bradley explained that he learned the business was run by white owners and most of their customer base appeared to be white. He described going to the bar to try to talk about the name, which he viewed as appropriative. Once there, he says he was laughed at. He also says a customer made a bizarrely racist statement about Neanderthals having dreaded hair before Black people did.
Bradley titled the Tiktok video “Make them change their name!” and within a day it amassed 70,000 views. Currently it’s at nearly 128,000.
The bar in question, N.W.I.P.A., is located along Southeast Foster Road in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.
On July 22, owner Dan Huish apologized publicly via the business’ Instagram account and announced that he would completely rebrand the shop, removing any signage or merchandise that displayed the old logo.
“I made a mistake nine years ago when I co-opted the font and visual style widely associated with the ground-breaking social protest hip hop group N.W.A.,” Huish wrote. “While at the time, it felt like a creative play on a cultural movement and visual style that I admired, in retrospect and in fact, my business’s name was an example of appropriating Black culture. I acknowledge this, I am so sorry, and I am committed to doing better.”
Huish corroborated Bradley’s account to Willamette Week, saying “there was a report from my staff of an argument between some customers and someone passing by, with strong words exchanged but nothing physical.”
Only one staff person was working at the time. Huish says that when they heard things getting heated, they went out front and told two regular customers (who appeared to be white) to leave. The staff person thought the regulars were being abusive to Bradley. Those regulars haven’t returned.
“Rather than arguing and refuting, I am here to listen and learn, and I encourage my white patrons to do the same,” Huish wrote in his social media statement.
Two days after his Tiktok video went viral, Bradley shared a screen capture of an apology from Huish. “Our sign and name should have been changed and clarified a long time ago,” the apology reads. “I will make signage and logos that clarifies our business as Northwest IPA.” That video got around 7,000 views. The first video currently has 127,000.
“I drive past that place every single day, “Bradley said, in response. “I drove past there yesterday and guess what I did not see: an N.W.I.P.A. sign.” He titled the post “Never sit back & let yourself lose. We are more important than that. NWIPA changed their font.”
Bradley did not respond to a message from WW seeking comment.
Despite Bradley’s apparent appeasement, negative comments continued, driving the beer bottle shop’s Yelp score down to 2.5 stars. Their Instagram account saw anywhere from five to 15 comments on their posts, from people who—in addition to demanding that the bar change their name—charged the bar with gentrification and called for it to close.
“It’s been stressful,” Huish said of the backlash. “I have a lot of work to do to change and repair, but ultimately I am really privileged to own a business, and have a community that knows and supports me. I haven’t been thinking about how its going to effect the business. I’ve been more focused on doing the right thing.”