After receiving threats over the meaning of its name in recent days, a poutine restaurant chain in France wants to make one thing crystal clear: It has absolutely no relation to Vladimir Putin.
La Maison de la Poutine ("The House of Poutine" in English) has four locations in France, including three in Paris. As its name would suggest, the restaurant specializes in french fries coated in cheese curds and gravy, a Quebec delicacy known as poutine.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, some people have begun to assume (incorrectly) that the name of La Maison de la Poutine is associated with the president of Russia, whose surname translates to "Poutine" in French.
On its social media accounts last week, the restaurant set the record straight that it is "not linked to the Russian regime and its leader," after receiving "insulting calls and even threats" from confused people.
"Our dish was born in Quebec in the 1950s. And the stories about its origin are numerous. But one thing is certain: poutine was created by passionate cooks who were eager to bring joy and comfort to their customers," the restaurant wrote in a statement.
"The House of Poutine has worked since its first day to perpetuate these values and today brings its most sincere support to the Ukrainian people who are courageously fighting for their freedom against the tyrannical Russian regime," the statement continues.
The restaurant's co-founder Guillaume Natas told Le Parisien that the threats have been coming in quite frequently in the Paris locations.
"We have up to five or six calls per hour," he said, explaining that he hasn't filed an official complaint yet because he thinks "the police have other things to do."
An employee at the restaurant's Toulouse location told France Bleu she's concerned people might vandalize the property or resort to violence.
Despite the troubling circumstances, Natas is taking things in stride and has a humble perspective on the whole situation.
"These are just malicious calls," he said. "In Ukraine, there are people who are being bombed."
Frites Alors!, a restaurant based in Lyon, has not received threats, but announced last week that it felt compelled to change the name of its signature poutine dish from "Vladimir" to "The Mother of Poutines" following the invasion.
"Ciao Vladimir! After 32 years, the play on words chosen for our flagship poutine is no longer very funny," the restaurant wrote on Instagram.
Last week, Quebec diner Le Roy Jucep announced on Facebook that it planned to temporarily remove the word "poutine" from its online branding, as reported by Ottawa Citizen. The post has since been deleted and the restaurant's website still reads "inventor of poutine" on it, but its Facebook now says it's the inventor of "fries cheese gravy" instead of poutine.
A restaurant in Austin, Texas, formerly known as "Russian House" also recently announced it dropped the word "Russian" from its moniker.
The owner, Varda Monamour, is of Eastern European heritage and told NBC affiliate KXAN the move was a way to show solidarity with Ukraine.
"To me, the name doesn’t reflect what we really are," she said. "And if it saddens or brings pain to others, we just feel it needs to be 'The House' — the house for everyone. The house where people can come in and enjoy a good meal and concentrate on good things and something that brings us together, not puts us apart."