The Week In International Intrigue: Starbucks Style, Drunk and Disorderly Denny’s, Indian Tough Guys
Even if you hate seeing Starbucks when abroad (or on your own corner) you must concede that the beyond-ubiquitous coffee chain does design some very cool localized shops.
It’s always fascinating (yes, fascinating) to see which restaurants open in the Middle East. There’s nothing surprising about PF Chang’s, Shake Shack or Fatburger in an Abu Dhabi mall; they’re practically standards now, but a new Macaroni Grill is a little less expected since Italian-American chains are underrepresented (still no Olive Garden) and I’d never even heard of Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar, which in NYC is just called Chocolate Bar. There is already a presence in Dubai, Qatar and Pakistan, it turns out.
First Manhattan (despite supposedly being “synonymous with a late night party atmosphere, as well as drunk, disorderly, violent and criminal conduct”) now the Middle East. Denny’s will be opening in nine countries, starting with the UAE. Despite the Dubai IHOP never looking particularly crowded, there must be some interest in American diner food with an emphasis on breakfast. Long live beef bacon and turkey ham.
India is increasingly attractive to American fast food brands; Burger King is arriving, McDonald’s is introducing its McCafe format, and Dunkin’ Donuts opened in September with a mildly bonkers range of non-doughnut food. Currently, there are twelve “burgers,” half vegetarian, which are really bagel sandwiches. The Heaven Can Wait includes both chile mayo and jalapeno cheese sauce while the new Tough Guy is said to contain a Mexican chorizo patty (confusing because that looks like chicken and is pork even allowed as a meat?) and spicy mustard sauce. I do appreciate the country’s positivity; the tagline for these sandwiches is “Tough times never last, but tough people do” and there is a chocolate on chocolate doughnut named Alive By Chocolate.
A different breed of Americana, Brooklyn Bowl, complete with Blue Ribbon fried chicken, kind of makes sense in London.