Commentary: Restaurants that reference crime and gangsters play a risky PR game in Singapore

Commentary: Restaurants that reference crime and gangsters play a risky PR game in Singapore


Local facilities referencing Singapore’s own underground past have largely managed to sail under the radar and avoid discussion, yet. The now defunct Operation Blade on Neil Road made it to number 22 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and attracted significant gastronomy fanatics with its modern cocktails.

No single batted an eye at its title, which references an island- large police procedure in 1956 cracking down on secret societies and gang violence.

Next year saw the beginning of a fashionable clandestine in Robertson Quay by the name of Chandu, which translates to “opium” in Malay ( or the more benign “moon” in Hindi).

The club takes inspiration from first 20th Century Singapore, when all manner of goods were shipped in and out of our boats and opium dens abounded. A martini called” Chasing the Dragon”, a euphemism for smoking opium, speaks to this record.

It’s interesting that these restaurants have n’t provoked the anger that Gotti Italiano or Escobar experienced. Maybe it’s because their gang recommendations are more mysterious and gentle, only obvious to students of Singapore’s background. Or perhaps it’s because the owner of these facilities do not seem to praise cruel murders.

The range between paying tribute to record and glamourising crime is certainly blurred. Al Capone’s, a brand of sports restaurants in Singapore, has also not curled feathers- despite its predecessor being one of the US ‘ most famous offenders from the 1920s.

Maybe the Gotti event serves to show that naming a restaurant or cafe after violent psychopaths comes with PR dangers. Glorifying violent lunatics may leave a bad taste in the mouth, and that is something any F&amp, B channel may strive to avoid.

Christian Barker is a Singapore- based columnist and writer who covers comfort, go, business, culture and men’s style.