Apparently the international fast food chains are failing in Saigon. Some have closed their restaurants or cafés and some do not plan to expand, at least in the near future.
Just down the way from Starbucks on Nguyen Trai sits the first Vietnamese edition of UCC Coffee — Ueshima Coffee Company, a Japan-based multinational chain with its own style and mass-replicated appeal. Where Starbucks’ debut was a mix of buzz, lines and Facebook selfies, UCC Coffee hasn’t drummed up any of that in its first six months. And, in the quiet, modernist collection of nooks and comfortable, classically upholstered seats, one sees why they might have wanted it this way.
If last year’s market entry of Starbucks can be viewed as a prototype, then by the time you read this piece there will have been extraordinary queues outside McDonald’s. Using the Drive-Thru model to enter the Vietnamese market, images of motorbike logjams trailing back down Saigon’s Dien Bien Phu come to mind.
All the burger talk this past month has centred on McDonald’s long-awaited entrée into the chain-hungry Vietnamese market, with a three-property location and 24-hour drive-thru service in downtown Ho Chi Minh City set to debut after Tet. It’s a move that’s been years in the making.
Ho Chi Minh City’s just now beginning to experience what other world cities know to be true — it seems like a new Starbucks opens every day. And it seems like Saigon has already gotten used to the trend, with the new Starbucks on the corner of Nguyen Du and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia already finding its way into the workdays of the city’s on-the-go types.