After a photo of LA restaurateur in blackface surfaced yesterday, Stephane Bombet has been removed in his position as the operations manager of vegan restaurant Nic’s on Beverly. Bombet claimed he was trying to impersonate “his hero” rapper Lil Wayne in the 2011 photo.
Nic Adler, who founded Nic’s on Beverly and also operates popular vegan spot Monty’s Good Burger in Koreatown, Riverside, and Echo Park, issued a statement saying that the restaurant does not tolerate racism of any kind and apologized for any hurt that Bombet’s actions may have caused. Here’s the statement in full:
We would like to take this time to inform our customers and community that Stephane Bombet is no longer associated with Nic’s on Beverly. Racism of any kind is not tolerated. We believe strongly in inclusion and respect for all, and apologize for any hurt his actions may have caused. We stand firmly with the Black community in the fight for long-term systemic change, justice and equity.
In addition, in light of yesterday’s blackface photo surfacing, Top Chef contestant Shirley Chung tells Eater that Bombet is no longer involved in her Culver City restaurant Ms. Chi Cafe. Bombet was never involved in the operations of Chung’s restaurant, though he did claim to be a partner. Chung says that she acquired the lease of the Culver City space, which was previously Hanjip, a Korean barbecue restaurant. Since Chung acquired the lease from Bombet, he held a share of the restaurant’s ownership. Chung, along with her husband Jimmy Lee, issued the following statement regarding the disassociation with Bombet:
In response to recent findings, we would like to inform our customers and community that Stephane Bombet is no longer associated with Ms. Chi Café and we do not condone his actions. As Chinese immigrants, we are very aware of discrimination and have experienced it throughout our lives and at Ms. Chi Café, racial or cultural prejudice of any kind is not tolerated. We stand with our community and hope to fight for equality, justice and positive change.
Nic’s on Beverly, which received a mixed review from LA Times critic Bill Addison, took over the former Terrine/The Ponte space (which were both Bombet restaurants) in the Beverly Grove neighborhood. In the opening news of Nic’s, Bombet was named as a co-operator. Though Bombet seemed to take credit for commissioning the mural of George Floyd and others who were the victims of police violence in front of Nic’s, the mural was created by artist Le Fou and was not intended to be publicized.
The actions from Nic’s on Beverly and Ms. Chi illustrate some of the immediate effects and calls for change resulting from the protests against police violence and the forces that contribute to systemic racism. The restaurant industry has long dealt with issues of racism and discrimination.
At the time of publication, Bombet was still involved with the operations at Downtown LA restaurant Faith & Flower. Bombet participated in Black Out Tuesday on June 2 on his personal Instagram, but has since disabled comments and made the account private.