How a ‘Woke’ breakfast landed Coventry at the center of a national controversy

Carmen Quiroga was “saddened” to see the name of her small breakfast joint, Woke, politicized, resulting in controversy on her local Facebook page.

But after two weeks on the job, her sunny side began to shine as customers flocked to her 1201 Main St. with her husband.

“I’m very happy that they know about my business because of these controversies,” Quiroga said, adding that he wishes it hadn’t happened. “Everybody knows my name now. They say they love your food and everyone supports us.”

A few negative comments in the weeks leading up to the opening called the title political, suggesting an awareness of social issues related to social and racial injustice. It is a word often used by activists and sometimes used as a weapon by the far right.

But Quiroga, who emigrated from Mexico several years ago, said he was unaware of the political connotation. On the contrary, he refers to it as the most breakfast – when he wakes up in the morning, he drinks coffee and breakfast.

The nine-table restaurant opened on Jan. 19 and has been so busy that they had to close for a day after the first, jam-packed weekend to train extra staff.

Quiroga, her husband and son moved to Coventry on Dec. 9, 23, when she heard through the community’s Facebook page that several people had taken the name as a political statement. These statements have since been blocked by the page administrator.

According to Quiroga, he began to cry because he worked so hard here.

He said they considered changing the name, but they spent a lot of time and money putting the logo on signs, menus and coffee mugs.

The logo features a sunlit egg over the ‘o’ in Woke.

“I thought I would be very sad if I didn’t have clients,” he said.

The people of Coventry have really woken up to breakfast and they are flocking to a new location, the only breakfast in town.

“Great place, very busy”

Lisa Thomas, a Democrat and chairwoman of the Coventry Town Council, said she believes the media attention to the issue is a product of “print-bait headlines,” but said she’s glad the local media is covering it now because she understands Connecticut’s small towns. . The story of the brief controversy on Facebook gained national attention.

“There has been a lot of support for Carmen from our community, but it’s so important that she chose our city for her business and to move her family,” Thomas said.

“This story should never have been about social media comments. It’s about Carmen’s choice of our town for her new business and the community’s joy in being in town for breakfast with good food and coffee,” said Thomas. “This type of small business is an important asset to our community. It also creates a living space for social interaction. This in turn will help attract additional investment to Coventry. This is especially important as our rural towns continue to reel from the fiscal and social impact of the COVID pandemic.”

Councilor Robin Gallagher also said Wake Breakfast was delighted to make Coventry its home.

“My family ate there this weekend and the food was delicious,” Gallagher said.

“I really appreciate the support we’ve received from our community and the surrounding communities after the apparent misunderstanding about the purpose of the Woke name,” he said. “One of the things I love about Coventry is that we are a very supportive community and I know a lot of community members who have supported the Walk.”

Coventry Town Council deputy chairman Marty Milkovich said he had breakfast there on Monday.

“Great place, very busy. “The community’s response to this shows that Coventry supports its small businesses,” he said.

Coventry Town manager John Elsesser had breakfast with his family on Sunday.

“It was busy and the food was good,” he said. “We are very happy that another small business has opened in our main village district.”

“I’m sure this place likes to sell eggs,” said Alexander Tiwa Taubes, a Connecticut civil rights attorney active in Black Lives Matter who is often associated with the word “woke.”

According to Taubes, the restaurant’s controversy and success so far can be traced back to 19th-century showman and circus owner Phineas T. An example of the old adage “All publicity is good publicity” may be Barnum’s first public utterance. also made Connecticut home.

“A lot of times we’re responding to other people’s overreactions,” Taubes said.

As for the political definition of awakening, Taubes said he asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attorneys to define it in connection with DeSantis’ lawsuit and did so: “The belief and need that there are systemic injustices in American society. address them”.

Taubes said it was “appalling” that someone would be so offensive.

According to Quiroga, she and her husband previously owned a pizzeria and an Italian restaurant in another city, but they had to work too much. They sold the business.

Her husband knew someone in Coventry who had a place to rent, so they took it and spent months renovating it. At the end of December, they moved to Coventry, partly because it’s “nice and quiet” and their son is doing well in that environment.

“The people here are very nice,” Quirog said.

He said they decided to open breakfast/brunch because the hours are shorter and he has experience as a breakfast chef.

One aspect of Woke is the quality of its food and coffee.

They have waffles, pancakes and omelets, as well as crepes, which seem popular, but they also have a Mexican breakfast section that customers can’t get enough of, Quiroga said.