Customers queue outside South Africa's first Burger King outlet, in Cape Town, on Thursday. Picture: PAUL VECCHIATTO
Customers queue outside South Africa's first Burger King outlet, in Cape Town, on Thursday. Picture: PAUL VECCHIATTO

BURGER King, the US fast-food franchise, on Thursday opened its first store in South Africa, in central Cape Town, with blaring music but no speeches.

It will compete head-on with international rival McDonald’s, which has been in South Africa since 1995, and a plethora of locally owned fast-food chains such as Nando’s and Steers.

JSE-listed Grand Parade Investments owns 8% of the Burger King franchise, with the US company holding the remainder.

Grand Parade Investments chairman Hassan Adams said the Burger King stores would be company-owned as it developed its distribution network and trained staff to operate in the US company culture.

"Burger King burgers are made exactly the same way around the world and we have to ensure that the quality is absolutely consistent in every new store," he said.

Burger King SA CEO Jaye Sinclair said the company had opened a centre to train staff on store operations.

"What we are doing is creating a career path for people," he said. "We want to train them from how to cook a burger to eventually managing a store."

Mr Sinclair said anyone of any age could apply to work at Burger King. "As long as they are 18 or older. The eldest person is 55 years," he said.

The new store is located in Heerengracht Square, a block away from the Cape Town International Convention Centre where the World Economic Forum on Africa was under way on Thursday with government and business heavyweights talking about Africa’s economy and uplifting the continent.

But the 2,000-strong crowd attending the Burger King store opening appeared to be either unaware of the economic conference or expressed disregard for it.

"I don’t care what they are saying there (at the World Economic Forum) but at least here I stand a chance to get a burger and maybe I can get a job application," one crowd member said.

© BDlive 2013