A new restaurant in Australia has drawn criticism because it sought to honour the achievements of the British Empire through the combination of its interior design and menu.
The British Colonial Co., which opened in July in the Queensland state capital of Brisbane, described itself as “inspired by the stylish days of the empirical push into the developing cultures of the world with the promise of adventure and refinement in a safari-style setting”.
The furore began soon after when the restaurant’s Facebook page said the owner had taken inspiration from “British Colonial Interior Design”. It continued:
“‘The sun never sets on the British Empire’ is the oft-repeated quotation used when trying to explain British colonial style. In a nutshell, the style is a result of English citizens travelling the world during the empire’s heyday, bringing with them typically heavy wooden furnishings and adapting to hot local climates with lighter local fare.
“These travellers also brought back exotic pieces from the Caribbean, India, the Far East and Africa as a way to show off how far they’d travelled. They tried to travel relatively light; campaign furniture (light, foldable and portable) also became part of the look.
“The results can mean a wild mix of light bamboo or cane furniture, heavier pieces, plaids mixed with animal prints, dark floors next to white walls and paisleys mixed with chintzes.”
Critics took to Twitter to air their disapproval.
after the success of Uncle Ho and British Colonial Co. in Brisbane, pleased to announce i’m opening a Mussolini-inspired pizza joint next yr
— Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) September 19, 2016
my favourite part of that british colonial co dining place? the lifesize statue of george orwell beating an indian child with a rattan cane
— civil tweeter (@dannolan) September 19, 2016
@hacklocked I understand having say a Raffles theme bc you like the style, but to openly base your theme on imperialism?????
— Barbara Kerr (@ms45) September 18, 2016
The restaurant has since been forced to redefine itself in the face of ongoing criticism.
The Daily Mail Australia reports the founders said they established the restaurant on the principles of providing Brisbane food lovers with relaxed, casual dining.
“We believe that our décor and menu has great synergy with Brisbane’s climate and the expansive palette of our clientele, who are looking for a melting pot of food and beverages to enjoy in a relaxed atmosphere.
“We are therefore upset and saddened by today’s media reports that our brand is causing offence and distress to some members of the community. This certainly was not our intention.”
The British Colonial Co. has changed its online reference to read: “A refined and modern dining experience with the adventure of east meets west in a plantation style, club setting”.
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