Amid growing tension between the United States and Iran and sanctions that ban U.S. companies from doing business with the Islamic republic, an outlet of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has opened in the Iranian city of Karaj.
Other outlets are also due to open in Tehran and other major cities
throughout the country, presumably satisfying citizens' taste for some "down-home" southern U.S. cooking.
Yet the CEO of Iran's first KFC franchise, Amir Hossein Alizadeh, has gone to great lengths to emphasize that his fast-food restaurant is not American, despite its name.
Alizadeh says it took him a "huge" investment and five years to obtain the required national and international permits to open KFCs in Iran.
When asked how an American brand made it into Iran, he said
, "The name of our restaurant is KFC, but we're not an American brand. We're not an American company.”
"With the purchase of the rights from the mother company, Iranian KFC -- and not American -- has been inaugurated," he added.
Alizadeh also said that his franchise would fully follow general KFC standards but offer a menu of 32 items suited to Iranian tastes.
While many Iranians have probably never eaten at KFC, the name of the chain is generally known and there are rip-offs with similar names.
KFC branches existed in Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Afterward, they maintained their decor and continued to sell fried chicken.
The Ghanoononline website reports that the KFC opening in Iran has raised eyebrows over how a restaurant with a U.S. registration can be registered in Iran and enter that country's food market.
The website also reported that the image of iconic KFC founder Colonel Sanders has come to Iran without his bolo tie, apparently indicating that the company's logo has been slightly changed.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari