Vietnam War-Themed Melbourne Bar Issues Apology For Being Tone Deaf

A bar that recently opened in Melbourne has ruffled feathers over its Vietnam War theme, with many describing it as ‘hurtful and insensitive’ and ‘tone deaf’.

Rickshaw Bar, which is located in Richmond, was subjected to major backlash after its Instagram page featured images of fallen helicopters, dog tags, and featured a bright orange colour theme which was believed to be a reference to the Agent Orange chemical weapon used during the Vietnam War.

Followers were quick to slam the restaurant’s concept in the comments, with one person writing: “What are you alluding to with the orange theme? Do you not have a shred of self-awareness or empathy?”

Another added: “You guys need to rebrand, apologise to Melbourne’s Vietnamese community and pay reparations for this atrocity.”


Vietnam War-Themed Melbourne Bar Issues Apology For Being Tone Deaf

The whole scenario is made even more controversial given that Richmond is home to a large population of Vietnamese immigrants.

Speaking to TimeOut, Brunswick-based Vietnamese eatery owner Ngọc Trần said his parents migrated from Vietnam, and the jarring imagery brought up a lot of raw emotions.

“It promotes war and PTSD that is passed on through generations,” he said.


“It doesn’t end with our parents, and we are living the aftermath. We’ve been displaced because of the war, and we’re fed up with our trauma and pain being capitalised on.”

Following the slew of critical comments on the page, all posts were soon deleted from the Rickshaw Bar Instagram and replaced with an apology.

“We have taken down our content and apologise to anyone that was offended or found the content inappropriate,” the apology read.


Vietnam War-Themed Melbourne Bar Issues Apology For Being Tone Deaf

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“We have revised our tone and are working hard to make this right. Sorry for any distress caused – it was never our intent.”

In a statement to Broadsheet, the restaurant’s owners added: “We are saddened that our creative concept for our cool little bar has caused upset in the community, it was never intended this way.

“Upon reflection we have decided to revisit the fit-out for the venue and will make some changes to ensure Rickshaw Bar is a fun and friendly venue for people to come and enjoy our hospitality.”

Vietnam War-Themed Melbourne Bar Issues Apology For Being Tone Deaf

The original press release for the venue stated that the site was a ‘dark and grungy space reminiscent of ’70s Saigon… exposed concrete floors, charred wood panelling and army green booths suggest what a post-apocalyptic future may have looked like in the 70s; with burnt orange and brushed gold details mirroring the fire that flashes from the kitchen and the bar.’

“The suggestive glow of red-neon light leads to the dark depths of the 65-seater venue, while stickers and tattered posters adorn the walls and empty bullet shells are littered throughout.”

The Vietnam War saw between 2.1 and 3.8 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed, with more than 58,000 American soldiers and around 500 Australian soldiers also losing their lives.