A week into its run in the Castro, Bandidos, the new Mexican restaurant from Hi Tops owners Jesse Woodward and Dana Gleim, is changing its name. It'll now be known as Hecho, for the Spanish word "to make." The name has been changed in response to allegations from SF's Mexican-American community that the term "bandidos" is racist and offensive—flames that were fanned when consulting chef Jamie Lauren commented that "I hate to call [Bandidos' cuisine] white people Mexican food, but it is," in an interview. "Older Latino activists fought so that name wouldn't be used," says writer-actor Marga Gomez, a Mexican-American and Castro resident who led the call for the name change. "It was never the most popular ethnic slur, but I'm familiar with that term being used as a slur from those old movies in the '30s and '40s, where all the villains were Mexican. Even some younger Latinos might think that think this is stupid, but it's because they never had to live with that. Older Latino activists fought so that name wouldn't be used."
In a statement on Facebook, Woodward and Gleim say they chose the moniker Hecho (which also belonged to a now-closed sushi and tequila spot in the FiDi) because "our menu is inspired by Mexican cuisine but has a San Francisco twist to it...we believe that this is an appropriate name that means we are not just one specific style, we are 'made' everywhere." In addition, they apologized for any offense, saying "we have been saddened that unknowingly the name of the restaurant we recently opened has offended people. This was never our intention and we feel horribly about it, so we have decided to change the name."
In an interview prior to the announcement of the name change, Gomez said she didn't feel the slight was intentional. "I don't think they meant to offend. They didn't know. If they change the name, I think it's a teachable moment." Her criticism lay only with the name, not the restaurant's bill of fare or prices: "People complain that they're charging $12 for two tacos, I don't care about that. It's a high-end foodie restaurant, they're using better ingredients. You don't want to put Mexican food in a box where it always has to be cheap. I think the menu looks great, and if they change the name, I'll be glad to eat there." Bandidos' external signage has already been removed, and the new moniker should be going up soon.