A Mistranslation Caused Grief for the Owner of a Restaurant in South Carolina

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The sign said ‘Minorities Need Not Apply’ — but that’s not what it meant

English is not their first language, the owners have confessed.

A restaurant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, posted a sign that said “Help Wanted: Minorities Need Not Apply,” resulting in an uproar, boycotts, and threats to call the authorities. But it turns out the entire hubbub was just due to a translation error. The owner of Kenny’s Homecooking, Sook “Sue” Shin, has since written an apology letter, stating that English is not her first language — she is Japanese, married to a Korean — and that she had mistakenly thought the sign meant “Minors Need Not Apply.”

"I really sorry [sic]. Please forgive me," Shin told local news station, WRAL.

Other employees at Kenny’s Homecooking pointed out the irony of the error, considering the fact that many people of various ethnic backgrounds work at the restaurant.

"The thing about it is, there's all kinds of minorities in here that work," said Melonie Henderson. "Our owner, she's Japanese. We have Spanish cooks, we have a black dishwasher." She also added that the misunderstanding hurt the business, but she hopes things will go back to normal soon.

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The sign has since been removed.