DhakaTribune
Sunday July 23, 2017 08:48 AM

Rendezvous at Trump Cafe

Rendezvous at Trump Cafe
The best restaurant ever. PeriodRAJIB DHAR

What does the existence of a Trump Cafe in Dhaka say about the US president?

The news is also featured outside Bangladesh — a cafe in Dhaka is named after the current president of the United States.

The owner is a fan of Donald Trump, apparently, if newspaper stories are to be believed.

We are also informed that the owner has always been a keen follower of the US president, also a canny businessman, who has made millions through his business ventures. Well, first of all, hats off to this guy because he has hit the bull’s eye in terms of commanding attention.

Does he have a marketing degree? Well, at this point, that’s hardly of any significance because hitting off with a new business in a town, where countless restaurants are opening up every month, is certainly a daunting task.

Full marks for the perfect start

Whether the food is top class or not, this new venture has made it to social media and newspapers with ample coverage abroad.

The reason is simple: In a time when the US president is stirring up so much emotions both in favour of his policies and against, choosing his name to be that of an eatery is astute thinking.

Just imagine the free publicity the cafe has received without spending a penny.

This is what can be called the optimum use of a global trend.

We also discover from newspaper reports that inside the hotel there’s a life-size cut-out of the US president should anyone choose to take a photo with it, while the WiFi password is the name of a Trump family member.

I wonder if it’s “Ivanka”?

Whatever, there’s been little talk about the food of the place because the naming has overtaken the sole purpose of the place.

I won’t be wrong in guessing that even if it’s not for the food, people will just step in out of curiosity and that means they will order whatever is available.

In plain terms, by now the spot is well known, so the owner won’t have to think about multifaceted advertising campaigns.

Does the US president know about it? Well, I am certain someone will whisper it in his ear: “Sir, you have a fanbase in Bangladesh.”

Such stunts are nothing new

Taking up a famous name and using it in the local context to create an instant market craze is not a new phenomenon.

Let’s go back to the early 80s when Dhaka’s fast food scenario meant munching on hot puris and shingaras.

A Chinese restaurant opened near Kalabagan and, it slightly changed the name of a famous fast food chain, calling itself Mcdonnel’s.

No one was interested to pursue copyright infringement in Bangladesh — a country that was hardly a global player at that time.

Interestingly, Mcdonnel’s did not serve burgers; it was Mughlai Chinese, or the spiced up desi Chinese food that we grew up eating in the decades after liberation.

Taking inspiration from the Knightsbridge luxury super shop, Harrods, we had a smaller version called Harods in New Market, if I recall correctly.

In Khulna, I found Burger Queen, the burger being a flat kebab inserted in a bun with large burned onions and sliced chilies for added zing. It’s delicious.

Back in 1986, after Argentina won the World Cup and the Maradona cult was triggered, somebody decided to market school exercise books emblazoned with the iconic picture of the player kissing the trophy.

Obviously, this became the hot item, every young school-going boy wanting one.

The problem with such establishments is that the initial storm around them lasts as long as the name they have used retain some social or political significance

When Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman were the top TV programs in Bangladesh, lollipops with a plastic wrapping containing the image of both the male and the female stars, Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner, flooded the market.

In the late 80s, MacGyver eclipsed all other television programs, showing a dashing young man, akin to 007, fighting enemies all across the globe, not with guns and high-tech gadgets but with his sharp intellect used in a hopeless situation to make life-saving implements out of every day or even throwaway items.

All the guys wanted to be MacGyver; almost every girl was head-over-heels for him while someone in Elephant Road opened a MacGyver shop even, selling chino trousers.

A song called “Hello Macgyver” was a hit and perhaps epitomised the inner desire of millions of young women: “Telephone dhori naa/ kobita pori na/ raat jege dekhi na VCR/ amar dui chokh shudhu takei khoje/ hello Macgyver.”

It’s available on YouTube, if you’re interested.

When the rage dies out

The problem with such establishments is that the initial storm surrounding them lasts as long as the name they have used retain some social or political significance.

All the places I mentioned above are no longer in existence. Their attraction died out once the rage lost impetus.

However, since The Donald is going to be president for some time, I am hoping that the cafe here will also have sustained publicity.

Well, that is of course hoping that the US president won’t do anything that may trigger resentment across the globe.

If that happens, the cafe may become a target of public ire.

So far, it’s a centre of amusement.

Inspired by Trump Cafe, one of my pals wants to open a Sunny Leone massage parlour.

“What do you think,” he asked me. Well, I am sure he’s hit the jackpot with this idea, safe to say.

And a cut-out, possibly at the door — with the tag line along the lines of: “Massage, masala, and more — sunny side always up.”

I love it already.

Towheed Feroze is a journalist working in the development sector.

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