US fast-food chain Burger King, the second largest fast food hamburger chain in the world, is scheduled to officially open its doors to enthusiastic burger-munching Capetonians this Thursday 9th May. Their flagship restaurant, based in the heart of the city (at 33-On-Heerengracht), will be serving the world-famous flame-grilled Burger King Whopper for the first time in South Africa. Fortress of Solitude received an invite to a brief tour and early taste of what’s on offer. McDonald’s, Steers and Wimpy beware, Burger King seems worthy of their reputation as the “king” of hamburgers!
There is a strange sense of familiarity when you first step inside the shiny new Burger King restaurant. At first glance, you could easily brush it off as a good McDonald’s imitation… but that’s exactly where you’d be wrong. Having a look around, moving upstairs, you can’t help but be in awe of what’s on offer to visitors. Surely, if the large screen HD televisions don’t capture your attention, the Sony Playstation 3 consoles and the basketball half-court will. Targeted towards young adults and toddlers alike, Burger King is branding itself as the go-to place for middle-class families in South Africa. The children’s playroom area is filled with the familiar jungle gym setup, with one huge exception. Chief Executive Officer Jaye Sinclair demonstrated a unique Burger King branded educational interactive projection game (kinda like a giant iPad on the floor?) which will provide the younger crowd a matchless amount of entertainment. He went on to explain that the game is also customizable for kid’s birthdays and events.
As the tour drew to a close, the press and members of the media had one thing lingering in back of their minds – when do we get to taste it? Rushing back downstairs, we all queued for a taste of the famous Whopper. Greeted by the friendliest staff I’ve ever come across, we were served the ginormous 280 gram burger, a side portion of fries and an empty branded cup. Burger King offers customers bottomless Pepsi drinks, which includes Mountain Dew, 7UP, and Pepsi light among others. The self-service Pepsi machines, which you can revisit as much you like, will definitely be a big hit amongst consumers. Jaye Sinclair says locals can expect the same high quality products that have made Burger King one of the biggest restaurant chains globally. “Our menu is designed to embrace the multi-cultural and diverse tastes of the South African public. We believe that our signature recipes and family friendly dining experience will be a perfect fit.” It’s not surprising then that the menu contains a wide range of chicken products.
After the very first bite into the burger, I knew I was hooked. The Whopper is worthy of every bit of hype. Not only is it good value for money, but it is tasty and a worthy competitor to Steers and McDonald’s burgers. The fries were also excellent and accompany the meal well. The thirty-to-forty rand (R30 – R40) asking price for the meal almost seems too low and too good to be true. Sinclair quickly assured the press that the prices were permanent and that they have no plans on increasing them anytime soon.
Grand Parade Investments (GPI), which owns the Burger King rights in South Africa, have plans to roll out a number of other restaurants in Cape Town within the next few months. With their eyes set next on Tygervalley Mall, the franchise is set to slowly sweep the country. Johannesburg can expect a restaurant as early as January, with Kwazulu-Natal to follow.
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