Bar named Opium faces backlash amid heroin epidemic in New England
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The owners of a new Maine bar named Opium say they will not change its name despite receiving criticism amid a heroin epidemic in the state.
Opium co-owner Raymond Brunyanszki says the Portland bar's name references a 1920s Shanghai opium den.
Some online commenters said the name is in poor taste, while others said they planned to visit.
"Opium is addictive and opening later this month," a Facebook post on May 9 read.
More than 350 people died from opioid overdoses in the state last year.
In a Facebook post, bar representatives say they don't promote drug use or addiction. It says the owners are happy the bar's name is leading to conversations about drug addiction.
Brunyanszki says other bars named Opium have opened in cities around the world.
Opium is being renovated for a reopening June 14.