Friday, August 25, 2006

Does Mongolia have fast food?

As of now, there aren't really fast food restaurants in Mongolia.

Mongolia does, however, have cafes and bakeries that offer carry out service and there are often people on the street selling buuz (dumpling-like treats that sometimes contain hot liquid along with meat) and khuusuur, which are essentially vegetable or meat empanadas. There are also places like Indra, and Berlin Burger that are kind of cafeteria-style fast food places. Right now though, there's no McDonalds, Burger King or Pizza Hut.

The one ostensibly Western fast food restaurant is BD's Mongolian Barbeque, owned by Billy Downs who runs a chain of these restaurants in the Southern US, and recently decided to have a Mongolian outpost. BD's is essentially a sit-down, make-your-own stir fry place.

A woman from the London office of the organization I work for was here this week, and she was saying that she had been in the Ukraine when the first McDonalds opened there. She had made some disparaging remarks about it, which really offended her Ukrainian friends. "How dare you deny us our place in the world?" they said to her. "We are finally joining the global market, and you are trying to hold us back."

Apparently, McDonalds recently sent a survey team to Mongolia to scout out the country as a potential market. The rumor is, however, that they decided against opening up a franchise here. Part of the supposed reason is that they couldn't compete with the pricing of items like khuusuur, which you can get for around ten cents apiece, and partially, Mongolia has such a low population density that UB would be their only possible market, and it just isn't that big. A lot of other Western companies, such as HSBC, have resisted participating in the Mongolian economy for the same reason.

At a certain point, however, I imagine that Mongolia will become enough of a tourist destination, and there will be enough other enticing factors, that companies will come, and Mongolia will join the global McDonalds market.


At 1:47 PM, Blogger Radigan Neuhalfen said...

Regarding corporations sans frontieres, worthy of mention is Thomas Friedman's "Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention," recently updated to the "Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention."

At 11:42 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Maybe it was put in after you were there but there is a place in the State Department Store that's kind of like a burger king! the name escapes me now though.

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