Burger SamdechSeptember 10, 2011
The august editor of this e-zine cornered me in a small, local watering hole the other evening, “Playboy” he bellowed from behind the safety of an American lass who was attempting to convince the DJ that Italian Disco was the way forward for the evening’s audio delights. “Playboy, what is happening with your monthly column for the new 440 front page e-zine?”
Damn, I thought, I had completely forgotten that I had promised to do one, having been splitting my time between Phnom Penh and Saigon for the past month.
Luckily, that very afternoon I had been having a long and quite liquid lunch with some of my counterparts at the American Chamber of Commerce and in between me telling them how they should run their country, one of them let slip that he had met with the Burger King Franchise Holders from Hong Kong, my initial thoughts were; “Woo Hoo ! They are coming!!! Triple Bacon Cheeseburger with Large Fries Please.”
So Burger King is poking around and looking to move in, which puts Cambodia well and truly on the development map – at least according to these inside sources at the American Chamber of Commerce. Would you like a large pinch of salt with those fries sir?
Apparently a franchising representative has had a look here (while on a weekend junket from Hong Kong) and answered that, “Burger King intends to develop outlets in Cambodia; however no final date has been established for this development.”
What does it take to franchise a Burger King?
According to their annual reports: High Integrity, Business Experience, Knowledge of Local Culture and Customs, a willingness to devote themselves full-time to the venture, willingness to train for nine months in a foreign country, knowledge of real estate management and ability to work well with the franchise organisation.
Strange, all that I thought it took was a large wedge of cash and some silly paper hats
Anyway, I am sure that Burger King can sort that one out themselves but once again the mere mention of a Burger King in Cambodia will inevitably set off the more cultured than thou, lentil-eating, sandal wearing vegan defectives; set off some anti-globalisation, anti-western, anti-development, anti-progress kickers and sally forth into some rant about how we should maintain the quaint little villages and lifestyles of Cambodia, never mind they suffer a 10% infant mortality rate and life expectancy shorter than that of a BK Mini Strawberry Sundae.
Burger King does not enter a country to cater to the whims of residing or visiting westerners, but enters a market when there is sufficient local interest and the ability to purchase the product. I have been in many Burger King’s; in Thailand, in Poland, in Paris, in Milan, in Budapest, in London (not to mention Olde New York) and almost all the customers are locals and not westerners-on-tour,
Soap box time again. I have a real problem with people who start ripping out their hair over the presence of Burger King’s – or any franchised Western chain – in a given foreign country. The restaurant is very popular around the world and that someone thinks Burger King should not be in Cambodia because they do not like the food or, more likely, feel that Burger King somehow symbolises the evils of western culture and how dare they invade poor little Cambodia with their cultural pollution wrecking the social fabric of these poor little impressionable Cambodians is quite a patronising attitude. If Cambodians want to enjoy a Burger King then they have every right to enjoy it and do not need some fat white hippy chick from Putney (for example, you know who you are) of a westerner telling them what is and is not right for them. Cambodia is for the Cambodians and they can decide for themselves whether or not they want a Burger King.
If the presence of a Burger King somehow disturbs some westerner’s idea of what Cambodia should look like, well, that is a personal problem to work out. If you do not like it, you’re welcome to go to any of the numerous privately owned bars or restaurants in Cambodia, order a beer and complain to whoever will listen, never mind said bar or restaurant is probably going to be western-owned and themed. If a Burger King’s outlet, or ten, should appear in Cambodia I suggest you complain not to Burger King’s or your local bartender but to the local Cambodian government that issued them the business license. However, do not be too surprised if the person on the other side laughs at you and tells you to get lost as he takes a bite out of his Flame Grilled Whopper.
Bring on those flame grilled burgers baby. Supersize me !
The views in this column are entirely those of His Excellency Lord Playboy (of Phnom Penh, Sonteipheap and that muddy patch of ground next to the school;) they are in no way are representative of Khmer440, its editors or staff, of any Ministry of the Royal Government of Cambodia who employs Lord Playboy, of sour puss Irishmen drunk on Mekong whiskey and coke in Shanghai Bar during Happy Hour on a Friday evening , of anyone who considers the Daily or Phnom Penh Post real newspapers, or the staff of certain UN Departments who never, ever, stop at junctions on Street 178 when leaving the office at lunchtime. Damn, things will be different when I am running the Country