RANGOON — Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) opened its pioneering outlet in the heart of Burma’s commercial capital on Tuesday, marking the first foray of an American fast-food franchise into the Burmese market.
A crowd of hungry customers more than 100-strong formed lines that spilled out onto the sidewalk adjacent Bogyoke Aung San Road soon after KFC opened its doors near Bogyoke Aung San Market, the sprawling downtown Rangoon bazaar popular with tourists.
Queuing patiently in front of the shop, one woman from Kyimyindaing Township said it was her daughter, and social media, that brought her out to the opening.
“My daughter asked me to come here after she saw the news of its opening on Facebook. She is very excited to taste it,” she said.
Scores of young people and families waited in line to get their hands on Colonel Sanders’ famed fried chicken, some having arrived hours before KFC opened its doors at noon.
“I have been here since 9 am with my friends,” said Thi Thi Nay Lin, 19, from Botataung Township.
“I like it very much and was very happy when I heard they would open here. I never imagined that it would open here, even though they open their outlets around the world,” she said.
Myat Min Thu, a 35-year-old resident of 39th Street, also made hurried lunch plans after he too was alerted to the restaurant’s opening thanks to Facebook.
“Since last year, I was looking forward to it and was excited for it,” he said. “At first, we didn’t know where it would open. I was reading news and watching their Facebook, waiting for this day,” he said.
“Frankly, I was very happy when I got the slip in my hand,” he said, brandishing his order voucher. “All of the fatigue from waiting for one hour healed at that moment.”
American multinational Yum! Brands and local partner Yoma Strategic Holdings first announced plans to open KFC outlets in Burma in October 2014. Yum! Brands’ KFC subsidiary is the world’s second largest fast food chain, with more than 19,400 KFC outlets in 120 countries around the globe.
Burma, however, was for years a no-go zone for the company, which was prevented from setting up shop in the Southeast Asian nation due to US economic sanctions that were eased in 2012.
Myo Oo, 41, also a downtowner, said he could still recall his first exposure to KFC in neighboring Thailand four years ago.
“I ate [KFC] in Bangkok four years ago and wanted to eat it here again. So, I am satisfied since I can eat now what I want to eat,” he said.
Just two hours after KFC opened to an eager throng of fried chicken lovers, however, satisfaction and anticipation gave way to disappointment for some as staffers announced that the outlet had run out of chicken.
“It is just too much,” said a girl in her teens. “They should at least let the customers get inside but now we are just standing outside for a long time, watching others eat.”
The KFC employees told customers to return at 3 pm, when more chicken would be available.