BUSINESS
10/31/2014 05:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Minnesota Restaurant Drops 'African' From Name Because Of Ebola Panic

Kellita Whisnant, the owner of an African restaurant in Minnesota, says Ebola panic has gotten so intense in her neighborhood that she had to change the name of her eatery from MaMaTi's African Kitchen to MaMaTi's Kitchen and Deli.

The Liberian-born 35-year-old has already taped over the word "African" in the Brooklyn Park restaurant's sign.

"It was pretty emotional for me. I didn't think it would be," Whisnant told The Huffington Post on Friday afternoon.

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Kellita Whisnant says she had to change the name of her restaurant because of Ebola panic. (KMSP-TV)

Whisnant said she has added new items like Philly cheesesteaks and burritos to her menu, in an effort to attract customers who may associate the African food she usually serves with the virus. She said that the Ebola anxiety has gotten so bad that people have dropped into the restaurant asking whether it was under quarantine or if anyone in there had Ebola.

Earlier this month, Whisnant told The New York Times that business had slowed drastically at the restaurant over Ebola fears. Sales have dropped by 50 percent since the summer when the Ebola crisis worsened in Africa, she told local Fox affiliate KMSP, because people are afraid of catching the virus through food.

Whisnant said she spoke to a friend who heard someone calling her food "Ebola shit."

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So far the name change hasn't helped much, Whisnant said. But she's hopeful.

"God don't put us through anything we can't handle," she said.

The panic Whisnant is describing is unfounded. Ebola only spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a symptomatic infected person, and not through food. While there have been a few isolated cases in the U.S., nearly 5,000 people have died of the virus in West Africa since March, according to the World Health Organization.

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