Posts tagged “mall”

Foreign foods in foreign lands

Although we were dazzled by the array of Asian cuisines available in the food halls at Taipei 101 we observed the biggest (and most eager) crowd at the KFC. We were further surprised to note the Air Canada promotion (amusingly inaccurate translation here including surprising use of the word urine) where, to honor the culture and flavors of Canada, they’re selling a traditional Chinese egg tart drizzled with maple syrup. We passed, thanks (we had hoped it was a traditional Canadian butter tart, but no luck).

The outside of the KFC stand was decorated with retro Americana and historical brand imagery.

The American Road Trip promotion at TGI Friday’s
Around the corner was TGI Friday’s, with an American-themed promotion, throwing together states, highways, and foods that might believably (in Taiwan, I guess) carry a geographic association: Kansas Cinnadunker Donuts, Illinois Mushroom Steak, California Shrimp Martini, Missouri Chicken Parmesan, Texas Dragonfire Chicken, Arizona Cape Cod Shrimp Louie, and New Mexico Tortilla Tilapia.

Check out the press release for this promotion.

Movie lovers must have seen car chase scenes on American inter-state highways, the most notable of which is the No 66 Highway. The new menu features characteristic foods of the eight states through which the No 66 inter-state highway runs. That would include Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California.

Start spreading the news
Although not a food venue specifically, it’s worth pointing out the New York, New York shopping mall, noted for the presence of American brands.

It’s a curious part of the experience of being a foreigner — in addition to noting the things that seem strange (and some of those will be appearing here eventually), in our global world we are likely to encounter things that we expect to be familiar, yet through someone else’s lenses they are very very different.

I’d rather spend a weekend locked in a department store (hey…..)

My colleagues and I used to talk about productizing the idea of “having a vacation in your own backyard” (pre 9/11, even). The SF Chron is running a series in the travel section detailing just how to do that. In today’s edition, a couple spends their summer vacation at Santana Row (a horrifyingly fake-fancy mall in San Jose)

Inside, sunny Mediterranean gave way to light walls, dark wood and clean, vaguely Asian lines. We made good use of the rooftop pool (as did a margarita-fueled girlfriend weekend party) and small but well-chosen selection of equipment in the gym before having a marvelous dinner at Citrus.

Feeling sophisticated and far from home, we crossed the courtyard to Vbar, whose dramatic red light, setting liquor bottles aglow against the ebony back bar, has won a degree of local fame. From the balcony, we looked across to apartments and condos above the stores. Most were still open, and the streets were buzzing. We hit the sidewalks again, entering a New Orleans-style flow of partiers drifting in and out of bars, restaurants and stores, drinks in hand.

After a late movie at CineArts at the edge of Santana Row, we made our way back through the throngs at 1 a.m. Wiggling through the line waiting to get up to Vbar, we flashed our room key at the bouncer. He made a path for us to the elevator, where we ignored someone’s abandoned drinks. For the second time that day, we retreated into the hotel’s soothing quiet.

The shops and restaurants, perfectly designed to mimic Old World elegance, do feel a bit like Europe’s grand shopping avenues, even if the illusion ends at parking lots or busy thoroughfares within a few blocks. The polished mimicry also feels a lot like Downtown Disney, and the artifice can be enervating. In the morning, we were happy to head back to our ordinary surroundings, but Santana Row’s beautiful buildings, cars, landscaping and people made for a delightfully indulgent and restful interlude.

Sony sells Metreon

More hubris for Sony as they sell the Metreon

Lisa Carparelli, a spokeswoman for Sony, said the company pulled out as Metreon’s original owner upon reviewing its corporate strategy and deciding to focus it on electronics, entertainment and games.

‘We had success in Metreon,’ Carparelli said. ‘We attracted an average of 6 million people a year, but the decision is based on corporate resources.’

Sony will continue to operate the Sony Style Store and the PlayStation store inside the Metreon. ‘We’ll be in essence a tenant,’ Carparelli said.

Visitors panned an exhibit based on the book ‘The Way Things Work’ as boring, and it closed in summer 2001. An anchor Microsoft store closed later that year. An exhibit based on Maurice Sendak’s book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ was scaled back to four days a week and later closed. The Discovery Channel store closed in 2003.

The movie theaters flourished. But Sony didn’t receive any revenue from the theaters and in 2002 rebuffed a quiet proposal by the theaters to expand into the by-then-vacant fourth floor.

One industry observer said the complex ended up with a mostly teenage clientele that alienated the upscale families whom Sony had intended to attract.

‘Sony envisioned a much higher-end customer than ultimately wanted to be there,’ Taylor said.

‘The tenants they put in originally were very unique and esoteric. The Discovery Channel had unique things, but they were for affluent people with lots of disposable income for cute knick-knacks. The most successful tenants were ones who catered to the teenage moviegoing crowd, like the pinball arcades. They intimidated the more affluent crowds looking for a more museumlike experience.’

I guess hindsight is 20-20 in situations like these. Sony in Japan offers pretty much every sort of service you can think of; in the US their attempt at a mall mostly failed (despite their positive spin). It never really had any meaning – there was little Sony about it, and the Metreon brand never seemed to grow into anything. And the place itself always lacked coherence as an experience. Let’s see if it’ll become anything I care about now, though.

Also from this story:

I was shown around the building by a Metreon staffer as workers scurried to finish the project in time. Everyone I’d spoken with had gushed about how Metreon was going to reinvent retailing and serve as a model for similar ventures worldwide.

I said to my guide: “So the mall … ”

“It’s not a mall,” she interrupted. “It’s an urban entertainment destination.”


“It’s an urban entertainment destination.”

I dutifully described the place as such in the article I’d been hired to write. But I had no clue what Sony meant. Metreon was a mix of stores, eating places and a movie theater.

It was a mall.

Sony never understood this. Nor did it grasp Bryant’s notion of a seamless entertainment-retail experience. Instead, it attempted to package Metreon as a mini-Disneyland, with a handful of attractions and a bunch of ways to spend money.

Where’s the Mall?

Simon Malls shows amazing chutzpah with this Black Friday ad, placing the viewing of the Statue of Liberty in horrific context. “Very inspring. Now, where’s the mall?”


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