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Big Mac comes a-calling

KFC is a craze and Subway is sold out, so the table is now set for Big Mac to bite into the Calcutta food mart.

A recce team representing McDonald's was in town this weekend. And the group of consultants, business development and operations managers meant business.

For four days they scouted properties, held talks with aspiring franchisees and gauged the business climate and spending power of Calcutta. And what they saw 'impressed them very much', said trade sources.

While officials remained mum on the matter, terming the visit as a 'routine tour' of various proposed destinations, those who interacted with the team were buoyant about the fast food chain's Calcutta connection.

'McDonald's has big plans for Calcutta, with anything between 12 to 15 outlets on the radar. This would include standalone restaurants, 'drive-thrus' and kiosks. They were impressed with the way business has shaped up here,' said an entrepreneur who met McDonalds' representatives.

The giant burger-and-fries chain with 30,000 restaurants in 119 countries is said to be eyeing the Park Street-Camac Street zone for its flagship store, with 'somewhere close to St Xavier's College' being a buzzword.

'The development in and around Park Street and Camac Street interested the team. They also want a presence in all the existing and upcoming malls in the city to take advantage of the high footfalls and growing spending power,' added the entrepreneur.

The team told local retail and restaurant players that Calcutta 'has emerged as a high potential business destination' for the chain and that 'the internal process for setting up business in Calcutta had been going on for some time now'.

A Big Mac launch in town should happen sooner rather than later as the city can now sustain 'multiple outlets' to make a Calcutta move feasible. This was reinforced after the recce team touched base with Forum, KFC in City Centre, South City and upcoming malls around town.

'Earlier, McDonald's had rough plans to come to Calcutta in 2007. But now there is a sense of urgency and as soon as their logistics are in place they should start selling the Chicken Maharaj Mac here,' said an entrepreneur in talks for a Big Mac franchisee.

The first outlet in India was opened at Vasant Vihar in New Delhi, in 1996. Currently, McDonald's has 76 restaurants across north and west India.

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