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First McDonald's in Bosnia Drawing Huge Crowds
Whatever happened to the Ugly American? He exists in President Obama's mind, and in those of anti-American elites at home and abroad -- but he's nowhere to be found on Marshal Tito street in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
That's where Bosnia's first McDonald's just opened -- and the fast-food restaurant is now drawing huge and adoring crowds of ordinary Bosnians, most of them young people under 40.
First Lady and diet scold Michelle Obama, eat your heart out.
It's been 16 years since U.S.-led NATO air strikes were carried out over Sarajevo to stop a brutal civil war in Europe's backyard. Now, all-American McDonald's is providing Bosnians with a oasis of American culture -- not to mention jobs and a sense that country has taken a major stride forward with the arrival of the golden arches and Big Mac.
It's an inspiring story; yet outside of Bosnia it has gotten little news coverage in the mainstream media. One exception is an excellent article by Rusmir Smajilhodzic of Agence France-Presse (AFP), which is worth reading in its entirety.
Here's an excerpt:
Ambassador Moon (the bearded man at the ribbon cutting, at right), in comments sure to infuriate the First Lady, was quoted at the U.S. Embassy's website as saying: "The opening of McDonald's is a visible symbol to the rest of the world that Bosnia and Herzegovina is open for business. McDonald's represents a U.S. tradition of entrepreneurship, innovation, quality, efficiency, and corporate social responsibility.
The Sarajevo restaurant is just the start for Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's, which says it's looking for new franchise partners to set up its golden arches elsewhere in Bosnia.
In its most recently quarterly statement, incidentally, McDonald's yet again reported strong earnings at home and abroad. The fast-food giant has more than 32,000 restaurants in 117 countries, and employs 1.7 million employees worldwide. Fifty-six percent of McDonald's restaurant are overseas.
Interestingly, McDonald's over the years has reported some of its strongest sales in two former cold war enemies, China and the former Soviet Union -- and it's been a big hit in anti-American France, too.
To the alarm of French bakers, McDonald's is now adding baguette sandwiches at its French outlets -- a move intended to boost sales by appealing to potential customers who don't want an all-American meal. "The French love the baguette. We are just progressively responding to a natural demand," said McDonald's senior Vice President for France and Southern Europe, Nawfal Trabelsi.
Click here for a charming YouTube clip set to soft piano music of Bosnia's first McDonald's, made during a quiet moment at the restaurant. It apparently is from an independent filmmaker who is a McDonald's fan.
And here is a local television news clip of McDonald's big opening night, including ribbon-cutting ceremonies in which Ambassador Moon participated.
Photo credit: United States Embassy, Bosnia
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