The deceptive restaurant competitor

The deceptive restaurant competitor
The imitation of Hanco’s restaurant was not quite this bad.
(You have to look closely.)

The radio program This American Life ran a program about the Million Dollar Idea. In the prologue, host Ira Glass investigates something peculiar about two Vietnamese restaurants in Brooklyn, New York:

Ira Glass: Hanco runs a shop that sells Vietnamese sandwiches and bubble tea on a corner in Brooklyn. It’s a neighborhood favorite, lots of tables, and sunlight streaming in through big windows, crowded most of the day. Not long ago, a customer brought in a menu from a shop that opened up just four blocks away to show to Hanco.

Hanco: Yeah. When I saw this, I was really shocked.

Glass: OK, so here’s your menu. Just read the list of sandwiches from top to bottom.

Hanco: Classic, grilled pork, grilled chicken, sardine, shredded chicken, tofu.

Glass: Now let’s go to this other one and read.

Hanco: OK, classic, grilled pork, grilled chicken, shredded chicken, tofu.

Glass: Or, go to the list of bubble teas. Here’s Hanco’s menu.

Hanco: Original bubble tea, almond, taro, honeydew coconut, coffee, thai tea.

Glass: And the competitive, Henry’s.

Hanco: Original bubble tea, almond, taro, honeydew coconut, coffee, thai.

Glass: Of the 42 sandwiches, salads, appetizers and drinks on Hanco’s menu, all 42 are on Henry’s in the exact same order, laid out in the same places on the menu posted $0.25 to $0.50 cheaper. And when you hold the two menu side by side, it’s the same font, same colors, maroon letters on white. Each one says in cursive, "Free delivery" on the upper right. The two menus look like copies except for the name on top.

Listen to the show (click "prologue") The Million Dollar Idea, This American Life>>
Read the transcript: The Million Dollar Idea, Prologue, This American Life>>

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