Buddhist Themed Bars Pop Up Around US

August 8, 2006

Source: Tricycle


On August 8, 2006 the Tricycle reported, "Newsweek reports that Buddhist-themed bars and restaurants have multiplied all over the US -- 13 cities are now said to have at least 20 of these Buddha bistros. A quick look on the web mirrors this phenomenon: Overture.com, a division of Yahoo! Search Marketing, reports 16445 searches for 'buddha bar' in June 2006, versus 862 for 'buddhist meditation.' But it might be more precise to say Asian-themed bars and restaurants rather than just Buddhist-themed, since the Newsweek article includes Om, a cocktail bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Tao Asian Bistro in New York City, in its count. Buddhism has long been considered a sexy marketing tool, from the Zen digital audio player to Buddha images on t-shirts, jeans, and, notoriously, Victoria's Secret bikinis. What does it mean that Western marketers feel entitled to use images of a major religion so freely? Gary Levine, a professor at the University of California in Berkeley, suggests that Buddhism's exoticism makes it easier for Westerners to exploit. Stephen Sarr, a restauranteur, says that he didn't think all that much about Buddhism when designing his restaurant, Buddakan in New York City: 'I was looking for an image that felt good and safe.'"

See also: Buddhism, Arts/Media