— Sonny Lê (@sonnylebythebay) September 17, 2014
Banh Shop's theme is apparently as red as the tomato slabs on their overpriced sandwiches. The fast food joint, owned by the Taco Bell parent company Yum! Brands, opened three days ago as a pilot restaurant near SMU. But visitors may have noticed more than awkward guacamole and sour cream on their sandwiches. Looking around, the place is rife with underhanded Vietnam War references.
First, visitors are greeted by the shop's red, five-pointed star logo, the symbol for communism. Their motto is "Saigon Street Food" -- which sounds catchier than Ho Chi Minh City Street Food, but gives the creeping impression that the red star, looming overbearingly above the motto, might soon encroach on former Saigon. And there's the overpoweringly red and black website, which lists sandwich choices such as "Grilled Steak," "Grilled Tofu," "Grilled Chicken Breast," "Grilled Pork Meatball," and then, oddly, "The American."
And visitors so far are not happy. The shop's Facebook page has exploded with furious commenters, many of them Vietnamese-American. On the plus side, the Dallas store is just the pilot run. Although the second Banh Shop is slated to open at DFW later this month, the company still has time to turn around the negative image.
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Look, we get that Vietnam is a communist nation, and maybe Yum! Brands wants to convey that in their theme. But reminders of Saigon on both the menu and motto, combined with their own communist manifesto, just feel like some shadow of the fall of Saigon, war, and death. Mmm. Yummy.