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UK restaurant in race row after 'colonial' burger launch

CONTROVERSIAL: Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s ‘Old Colonial’ burger

USERS TOOK to Twitter to vent their frustrations after British restaurant chain Gourmet Burger Kitchen sent out an email announcing the launch of a new burger named ‘The Old Colonial’.

The burger was originally only available at the chain’s Soho and Bayswater branches. But was so successful that the chain decided to make it available nationwide. The branding in the image used in the email features the burger, overlaid with a graphic stamp featuring silhouetted palm trees.


This comes after it was reported that complaints had been made to the Advertising Standards Authority by vegetarians and vegans frustrated with Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s latest advertising campaign, which mixed prominent pictures of the restaurant’s products with slogans such as “Vegetarians – resistance is futile” and “You always remember the time you gave up being a vegetarian”.

The marketing angle used for the ‘Old Colonial’ burger – a “30 day dry-aged steak burger with Red Leicester cheese, crispy bacon, pickles, Bangkok slaw & beef ketchup” – has met with protest on and offline. Many of those who have voiced opposition online claimed the use of the term ‘colonial’ to market a food product as racist.

Victoria Bulley, 24, a poet based in London, was one of the people who originally drew attention to Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s branding of the ‘Old Colonial’ burger after it was posted on Twitter last month. “Sadly, this sort of event is as annoying as it is unsurprising. I would even go as far as saying that I find it really quite hurtful, but unfortunately the truth of the matter is that this is so far from the first time that this kind of thing has happened,” she wrote.


She went on: “The ‘Great’ in Great Britain refers to empire, and empire - among many other things that this country loves to call ‘British’ - is the product of colonialism. And to put it quite bluntly, colonialism never happened without genocide.

This isn’t about opinion or political correctness. This is about facts. Anyone trying to sell a burger by calling it the ‘Old Colonial’ is celebrating colonialism. It’s that simple.”
Emma Morris-Davies, a Zimbabwean-born British citizen naturalised in 2014, also thought the approach was inappropriate.

“Selling a burger based around a system of institutional racism and two-tiered economic systems fuelled by white supremacy has no place in a modern and multicultural society” she wrote. “I can’t believe a company would use it as a marketing tool.”

The ‘About Us’ section of the Gourmet Burger Kitchen UK’s website frontpage recalls that the first Gourmet Burger Kitchen was opened in Battersea in 2001 by “three Kiwi guys”, and has grown since to become a group of over 60 restaurants across the UK.

Despite approaching Gourmet Burger Kitchen several times for a response to these criticisms, they failed to respond to any requests for comment.

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