Not everyone was happy about the debut of Zauo, the interactive Japanese restaurant where diners fish for their dinner.
A group of animal welfare activists staged a protest during Zauo’s opening night in Chelsea on Monday, October 15, according to Maureen Medina, who says she organized the disruption with Rachel Ejsmont. Photos on Facebook show about a dozen people, mostly women, armed with homemade signs that read things like, “See Life Not Seafood.”
A Facebook video posted by the organizers shows protestors marching through the restaurant’s two floors loudly chanting, “It’s not entertainment; it’s violence!” and, “We see life! You see food!” It’s not clear if there were diners at the restaurant during the disruption, but a woman and child who seemed to have just caught a fish are shown in the video at one point.
A spokesperson for the restaurant said the restaurant called the police, but that the protestors ran out before officers arrived. The spokesperson reached out to restaurant owners for further comment.
Protestors were staged outside starting at 5 p.m. and entered the restaurant at 8:30 p.m., according to Medina, who also claims that Zauo locked them in when they entered the restaurant.
In Japan, the chain is deemed a popular, family-friendly spot where reservations are required. Its first U.S. location opened in Chelsea earlier this week in a 134-seat space with three indoor tanks carrying several different types of fish. Diners pay depending on the fish they catch, and the fish can be cooked one of four different ways.
“We hope that Zauo will replace this barbaric form of dining with a plant-based menu, which vegans would gladly support,” Medina writes via email.