It’s only been open for a week on Howell Mill Road, but the Savannah-based sandwich restaurant Zunzi’s Takeout is already causing consternation with the neighbors over the use of their motto “Shit Yeah” on the menu. A sauce is also named for the slogan.
The drama, unsurprisingly, began last week on the neighborhood message board Nextdoor when a nearby resident felt Zunzi’s menu was inappropriate. That’s all it took for residents in the surrounding south Buckhead neighborhoods to take the ball and run with it.
Nextdoor is a members-only neighborhood forum where people post photos of lost animals, notices, and items for sale; discussions often devolve into local gossip and mini dramas.
Outrage on the message board ranged from concerned parents exposing their young children to foul language to those who felt the debasing of the country’s moral values were at stake. Some Nextdoor naysayers were calling for Zunzi’s to remove the offensive word from the menu while others simply stated they wouldn’t be patronizing the restaurant.
Sad. The sandwiches are really that good.
The original poster walked back their concern after speaking in person with owner Chris Smith on the matter and hearing his explanation for using the contentious phrase. A handful of other commenters say they also spoke with Smith regarding the phrase and were satisfied with his reasoning. They did not, however, provide the rest of their Nextdoor neighbors with that explanation.
Smith tells Eater Atlanta he took over the business from the original owners in 2014 and inherited the phrase, “Shit Yeah”. Rather than do away with what was already part of Zunzi’s culture in Savannah, they embraced and transformed the phrase into a positive message about how they want customers to feel about their dining experience and the sandwiches.
“It’s really simple. “Shit Yeah” is our promise to our customers that we hope they’ve had such a great experience, they leave saying, ‘Shit yeah!’”, Smith says. “If they’re not saying that, we need to know so we can make it right. Anything beyond that, customers can always reach out to me personally. I am happy to sit down and have a conversation.”
As for the author of the original Nextdoor thread who came to see him last week, Smith says they had a great conversation, and he’s glad the concerned person is satisfied with his explanation.
Smith is going to install a poster at the entrance to Zunzi’s on Howell Mill explaining the mission behind the restaurant and its eye-catching slogan. Cups containing the mission statement and explanation are also in the works.
Most commenters on the thread, and the subsequent spin-offs, laughed off the controversial menu item, though some threw down Bible verses, and other worried parents expressed “Think of the children!”-style concern.
A few commenters pointed out that some employees even refer to “Shit Yeah” sauce as “SY” sauce when reading back people’s orders. But, judging by the daily lunch lines, the concern over the motto isn’t hurting Zunzi’s business.
June 5, 12:30 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect owner Chris Smith’s comments.
Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
1971 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. zunzis.com.