Restaurants

Ayesha Curry’s Steph Problem

Rockets Fans Are Panning Her Ambitious New Houston Restaurant Before It Even Opens

BY // 06.21.18

International Smoke may serve up eats and meats from the world over, but the Houston location has already stirred up some drama that’s closer to home. The anticipated new restaurant is caught in the middle of a fierce basketball fan fight.

International Smoke’s creator is none other than Ayesha Curry, wife of Golden State Warriors MVP Stephen Curry. That’s enough to make this actress, cookbook author and TV personality a persona non grata in Space City. For Ayesha Curry’s upcoming Houston restaurant, that means nothing but net negativity.

This week, Curry and her celebrity chef partner Michael Mina revealed that their BBQ-centric restaurant will open on July 5. Fans bitter over the Houston Rockets’ epic seven game loss to the Warriors in the real NBA Finals are calling out the Houston International Smoke on Yelp.

The review site has officially become NBA trash talk territory.

International Smoke Houston now carries a shameful 2.5 stars rating on Yelp, weeks before it will ever serve its first meal. Food and service critiques are all part of the sabotage, without any actual evidence to go off of.

Enraged Rockets fans aren’t masking the source of their vitriol. The general vibe is: Who does Ayesha Curry think she is? Doesn’t she know this is Rockets country?

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“First and foremost, I would like to start off by saying… how dare you bring this mess to Houston. We are good, we do not need this negativity…” so begins one Houston-based Yelp reviewer’s post. It goes on to add “Ayesha, just pack up your restaurant and be going. You are not welcome in H town,” along with “The Warriors suck. GO ROCKETS.”

“There is nothing that says REAL Texas BBQ here. This establishment is just a publicity stunt by Ayesha Curry to troll on Houston and its culture,” another Houstonian writes.

Other Yelp “reviewers” come straight for Stephen Curry.

“This is probably gonna be the worst International Smoke because it is in Houston Rockets territory from a person who is rated to an overrated player and her name is Stephanie Curry,” a Spring Yelper posts.

“I don’t know why the servers are walking around with their filthy mouthpieces hanging from their mouth,” another review reads.

But some Texans are voicing support of International Smoke, with a “reviewer” from Coppell expressing  excitement. There are even some Houston sports fan outliers, willing to set athletic allegiances aside.

“I’m not a hater … I’m an objective Rockets fan. Mrs. Curry didn’t make us miss 35 three pointers did she? I don’t even understand why we’re upset … we got bums for closers smh,” one writes.

You’d better believe Californians aren’t staying silent. They’ve started fighting back by leaving their own 5-star reviews. Some are promoting the restaurant on its own merits. “Can’t deny good food no matter what basketball team you like. You’re only punishing yourself if you don’t give this place a shot.”

Others are hitting below the belt. “I love this restaurant. Every time I walk in, it smells like Champagne. The only problem is the location because I think Houstonians have forgotten how a champion tastes like,” writes someone from Roseville.

“These Rockets fans are pathetic. Restaurant ain’t even open yet…what’s the point of being so childish?”

Let’s just say there were a few mentions of Rockets missing a record number of 3-point shots. “Houston fans are used to their food being like them, salty,” an Oakland resident chides.

A Yelp Problem

So, will all this hoops hoopla hurt the restaurant’s chances? Have Houstonians Harden’d their hearts against International Smoke? Do they really find Ayesha Curry so a-Paul-ling?

In a few weeks time, we’ll know if International Smoke opens to fanfare or fans’ fury. After all, not every Houstonian is on Yelp. And it would take a lot to ward off true Houston foodies.

International Smoke’s San Francisco counterpart is generally well received and highly rated. Mina’s travels across the world have inspired its diverse menu. Ribs are the backbone, no pun intended. But International Smoke also brings charcoal-baked hot shellfish, pork belly steamed buns, instant bacon and a whole slew of grain and veggie dishes.

Will Houston give any of it a chance? Should we?

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