Chef Changes Name Of Restaurant Named After His Oldest Child After They Came Out As Nonbinary
“It's great to hear all these people who knew Ollie growing up and have them come out to say 'you're seen and heard.' It's really beautiful.”
Chef Dave Heide in Wisconsin’s newest restaurant, Ollie’s Madison, is getting rave reviews not only for its tasty menu, but for how it came into existence. The restaurant owner, Chef David Heide, announced the closing of one of his other establishments, a popular New Orleans-style restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, after his eldest child, Ollie Joy, came out as nonbinary.
Heide has a couple restaurants (one shut down during the height of the pandemic), all of which are named after one of his three kids. Previously, the New Orleans restaurant was named after Ollie’s deadname, and as soon as Ollie came out, Heide wanted to make sure that his child felt safe and did not have to hear their deadname as people talked about the restaurant.
“It was really making [Ollie] sad, getting deadnamed every day, seeing the name on the building I went to work at," Heide told Insider. So a month after Ollie came out, Heide decided to close the New Orleans establishment and open up a brand new one honoring Ollie.
“My kiddo doesn’t go by the name that’s on the restaurant anymore,” Heide told the Wisconsin State Journal. “They don’t use that name. They go by a different name. As a dad who loves their kid, to have their deadname on my shirt every day when I come home and their deadname on their restaurant … that’s part of it.”
And when people questioned Heide’s decision to close a long-standing business — why not just open up another restaurant for Ollie’s and keep the original one intact? What if this is just a phase and Ollie changes their name back? — Heide was understandably not having it.
"Do you think I give a crap about my old brand compared to my kiddo and their mental health?" he said. Fortunately, for the most part, Heide was applauded for the decision to close the original restaurant and open up a new one bearing Ollie’s name. Heide also wrote a piece for Our Live Wisconsin, a LGBTQ news outlet, about how it was a simple decision to not only open up a new restaurant, but accept Ollie the second they came out as non-binary.
“It is funny to me that the first question so many people ask me is, “How hard was it to have your child come out as trans/non-binary?” For me, the answer is so simple. “It wasn’t.” I love Ollie no matter what their name is, no matter what their pronouns, gender, sexual orientation, or faith turns out to be. I. Love. My. Child,” Heide wrote.
Ollie also played a huge role in the design of the space and the American-style, comfort food menu, which includes everything from Detroit-style pizza to smash burgers. And while people are coming in to enjoy the tasty food, many are also stopping by to offer words of encouragement and gratitude.
"It's great to hear all these people who knew Ollie growing up and have them come out to say 'you're seen and heard.' It's really beautiful," Heide said.