Is Vietnamese food going to be the “next big thing” in American Dining?
Yum Brands, which owns Taco Bell and KFC, is trying out Fast Casual Vietnamese food with the launch in Dallas of “Banh Shop“, an experimental fast casual restaurant specializing in Vietnamese food like Banh Mi. Part of this experiment’s learning experience has been with local Vietnamese Americans, who have reacted angrily to the red star in the logo, which to them is an ugly reminder of communism.
The motivation for Yum Brands efforts is to catch up with Chipotle, which along with other fast casual chains like Five Guys, is in one of the biggest growth areas in American restaurant dining. Yum has also created Cantina Bell to compete directly with Chipotle. Southeast Asian food seems like a logical direction, as this Huntingon Post article points out, interest in food like Banh mi has been growing. Still, Yum Brands Banh Shop is way behind Chipotle in this area, as Chipotle opened up ShopHouse years ago, and now has 10 locations.
I have seen a number of “Fast Casual” style Asian restaurants open up, from Indian to a Vietnamese one that is similar to ShopHouse. A local one in my Asian ethnoburb neighborhood manages to attract all generations of Asians, including immigrants, by having decent portions for the price, using fresh ingredients, and being reasonable authentic. In addition, they don’t anger the local Vietnamese population with a symbol of a painful past. Yum Brands has promised to change the logo.
(photo credit: Mark Lee)