When I first heard that Yum! Brands, the parent company behind Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC, was opening a bánh mì shop in Dallas, my reaction was muted. By that point, I wasn't even upset at the cultural appropriation– I was already wearied from all of the pho sandwiches and pho burgers and pho not-phos. No, I figured if the shop ends up being kind of authentic and maybe turns some people onto Vietnamese food, then why not?
Banh Shop couldn't really be that bad, right?
And then Yum! did literally the worst thing they could realistically do: They stuck a communist star in their logo. Is Yum Brands just begging for busloads of elders from Little Saigon to loudly protest outside their new store for weeks?
For those of you who last paid attention to the Vietnam War before the Tet Offensive, a short primer: The majority of Vietnamese living overseas are refugees from the Vietnam War. They hate the Vietnamese communist government, and, really, communism in general. Why? Well, when someone invades your country, kills your family (my grandfather was killed by a VC roadside bomb, for example), renames your capital, throws you in reeducation camps and forces you to flee your homeland, it's kind of hard not to.
Showing off a Communist Vietnamese flag, waving communist symbolism around, posting a picture of Ho Chi Minh–those are all really easy ways to make sure your Vietnamese-ish restaurant upsets a lot of people. There's a reason why you hardly ever see the official Vietnamese flag flying in the Western United States. Oh, it probably doesn't help that Banh Shop's motto is "Saigon Street Food" either.
The fact that Yum! Brands stuck a red communist star into their logo is unbelievable–there's just no other way to put it. You don't do Vietnamese food in the United States (much less Dallas, with its large Vietnamese population) and stick a red star in it unless you want to offend a few hundred thousand people. Any design firm tasked with working with a Fortune 500 company that's starting a new concept based primarily on one specific culture's cuisine should at least do a Wikipedia search of the biggest point of contention in that community.
Fuck, Yum: I'm just up the 405 from Taco Bell headquarters. Call up a brother! So here's some free advice, just 'cause I care: Change the damn logo. Banh Shop has been open for less than a week; it shouldn't be hard to swap with something less offensive, like a conical hat or Fu Manchu or something.