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Sarajevans Queue For Burgers As McDonald's Comes To Bosnia

Big Macs For Bosnia
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The first branch of the McDonald's fast-food empire opened in Sarajevo on July 20 on Marshal Tito Street. Bosnia had been one of the few remaining countries in Europe without a McDonald's restaurant, and the company had to fight legal obstacles and object

SARAJEVO -- Hundreds of Sarajevans waited in lines in heavy rain for hamburgers and french fries at the first Bosnian branch of the McDonald's fast-food empire, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

Sarajevo Mayor Alija Behmen officially opened the restaurant on the Bosnian capital's main street, named after Marshall Tito, and made the first food order.

Behmen said McDonald's presence sent a strong signal to badly needed foreign investors.

He also dismissed fears that hamburgers would undermine the lofty place of cevapcici, a traditional grilled minced-meat dish that is revered in the Balkans and beyond.

"Has McDonald's put pizza in danger in Italy or sausages in Munich? This will only broaden the choice," Behmen said.

One young boy who was brought to the new McDonald's by his grandparents for a Big Mac, fries, and a cola, agreed with the mayor.

"It was awesome," he said. When asked which is better, cevapcici or hamburgers, he said that "both are great."

McDonald's first expressed interest in the market in Bosnia-Herzegovina more than a decade ago. But it only started preparing to launch the Sarajevo branch in 2007 -- after long bureaucratic delays and other hindrances.

McDonald's operates in 118 countries. It opened its first restaurant in the region in Belgrade in 1988, followed by one in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, in 1996.

The company has plans to open several more outlets in Bosnia.