Cape Town - Followed by an entourage and hanging out at city hot spots, Whopper, the Burger King mascot, has been creating a stir.
Mayor Patricia De Lille has handed over “the key to the city” to Whopper in a symbolic gesture to welcome the franchise to Cape Town.
Burger King – the second largest fast food hamburger chain in the world – said it aimed to generate more than 5 000 jobs within five years.
Whopper and a member of his entourage, a “spokesman” in a red suit and dark sunglasses, visited De Lille at her office to give her a burger and to receive the key.
De Lille said: “We’re saying that as a city – with open arms – we welcome Burger King.”
Having the chain’s South African head office in Cape Town would create “much needed” jobs, she said.
But what doors would Whopper’s key unlock? De Lille said: “It means that, from the city’s side, we will assist in whatever way we can… to make the business a success.”
About 95 percent of Burger King restaurants are owned and operated by independent franchisees.
Jaye Sinclair, chief executive officer of Burger King SA said: “It shows faith that the Western Cape government has towards creating wonderful opportunities and we’re certainly not going to let the mayor down.”
Hassen Adams, the executive chairman for investment holding company Grand Parade Investments, which holds the long-term master franchise agreement for the outlets in South Africa with Burger King Worldwide, said the restaurant was the first for sub-saharan Africa.
He said it was appropriate to launch the franchise in Cape Town because of the logistical support in the city.
“We are going to set up factories for all the ingredients… there’ll be lots of jobs in the supply chain,” he said.
Is Burger King the king?
Burger King says its entry into the local market should stoke competition in the industry.
Amid much fanfare and hype around the opening on Thursday, journalists were invited for a sneak peak of the restaurant on the Heerengracht diagonally across from Thibault Square.
The outlet is spread over two levels. It has a mini basketball court, a video game station, a play area for toddlers, and an interactive digital game room.
Burger King South Africa chief executive Jaye Sinclair says the chain wants to create a family and lifestyle environment.
The hamburger chain is the second largest in the world, and was founded by James and David Edgerton in 1954.
As workers drilled and added finishing touches to the building, journalists were treated to items from the menu. The Cape Argus team ordered the signature whopper and double whopper. - Esther Lewis, Cape Argus