International Fast Food Chains In Tunisia

One of the things a lot of people I know have been shocked by when they came to Tunisia is the inexistence of any international fast food chains.
Yep, no McDonald’s, no Burger King, no KFC, no Domino’s, no Popeye’s, nothing. Even the couple of Pizza Huts we had here, which I’m not sure had the rights to the trademark, have been shut down.

Ok, I know, a lot of people think good riddance! And that we’re better off without those fast food chains for many reasons, starting with health on to other anti-globalization ideas.

But, let’s start by exploring the health side of it, it’s pretty much nonsense to say that having these chains open up will introduce unhealthy diets to people, because with or without them, people are eating fast food, only they’re doing it from crappy Tunisian substitutes that serve food that is even unhealthier.
People who would go to a McDonald’s or a Burger King, go to Baguette & Baguette, others who would go to KFC or Popeye’s go to Chickos, and the ones who would go to Pizza Hut or Domino’s end up in one of the thousands of Pizzarias.
But the difference is that the local counterparts serve low quality, unhealthy, tasteless food. I have yet to eat a good cheese burger, a tasty chicken meal, or a delicious thick stuffed crust pizza in Tunisia, even though I pay a relatively expensive price for what turns out to be a bad meal.

Just to make myself clear, I’m not talking about Tunisian fast food; God knows how much I love our kifteji, lablebi and other delicacies; I’m talking about the substitutes we have for those international chains and their meals.
And by the way, I’m not a big fan of the meals these chains provide, but every once in a while, I do feel like a double whopper or a good KFC meal or a stuffed crust pizza. And here, that’s nowhere to be found.

Now for the economic reasons, well the world is changing, whether we like it or not, we are in a cycle of globalization, and the whole world is opening up. Even though recent events like the whole US-UAE ports operations story and the French-Indian steel company one demonstrate that some would like it to be pretty one-sided, but eventually, this is a strong current that is going to pull everyone along.
Tunisia has been following a steady policy by which it is slowly opening up it’s economy to the global economy, and just like we’re seeing many international companies setting up shop in Tunisia, I think it’s time we let some international food chains in too.

I understand the fears that some people have about globalization erasing the original identity of the country and how these big chains would force other smaller local restaurants out of business, making it almost impossible to find an authentic Tunisian meal in Tunisia.

I’ve seen this in many countries I’ve visited, where you almost feel like cities are copy pasted all around the world, with the same restaurants, malls, clothes shops, …etc. But this is where the government and people should kick in, it’s our responsibility to keep these businesses alive, to support them and encourage their existence.
It’s also their responsibity to enhance their quality and bring themselves to a level where they can compete by providing a decent and delicious meal at a reasonable price.

  • A.

    I am not sure I do agree with you on this one… Tunisian fast food is not crappy and tasteless, Tunisian sandwiches are really good, keftaji as well, hargma…

    do you prefer to have a domino’s pizza or pizza hut, really !? I prefer the thin crust pizza made in Tunisia (closer to the italian original pizza) better than the bread pizza of the American chains.

    Even if those chains open up in Tunisia, I doubt I’ll visit then, unless it is popeye’s, I love that !!!!!

  • Houssein

    I totaly agree with you Anis. I don’t understand how Marwen says that he could eat a good burger or pizza at the tastless-all-the-same Mc Do, the fat Burger King, Domino’s (the worst pizza I ever ate), the too salty chicken at KFC, etc.

    These are not fast food, they are insdustrial food, faceless, with no soul and no taste. I ate this crap almost daily for 2 years when I came to Canada. Now, I can’t even think about visting a Burger King, just the smell makes me feel dizzy :-)

    Man! I would pay 50$ for a kafteji sandwich from El Hattab :-)

  • MMM

    Well, you got me a bit wrong on this one, I didn’t say that all Tunisian fast food was tasteless and crappy, that is so far from the truth, in fact when I was out of Tunisia and had access to all the international fast food chains, all I was craving was a delicious kifteji from any little restaurant in Tunisia.

    What I meant is that the Tunisian substitutes for the international fast food chains produce tasteless and crappy food.
    I’m not a big fan of the meals these chains provide, but every once in a while, I do feel like a double whopper or a good KFC meal or a stuffed crust pizza. And here, that’s nowhere to be found.

  • Anis

    I think your are a marketing victim !!!



  • Sleeplessjojo

    Hmm… I love Tunisian fast food (which to me is Lablabi, fricass

  • MMM

    Anis, loool, well not really. It’s just as I said that sometimes I feel like a good old double whopper with cheese, a dinner box combo from KFC or something. Not because I’ve fallen victim to their marketing, but because I like those meals and feel like them every once in a while.

    Jojo, it seems you’re the only one who understood me in this one, lol…

  • MoZZ

    On a quand m

  • imperatorking

    Dear 3*M,
    aquacool agree your love for fastfood?we have enough unhealth foods with own restaurants so we needn’t import others. I hope that we have famous corporate in IT or other fiels instead McDO.

  • MMM

    MoZZ, looool…
    Regarding the fast food chains giving their franchise to Tunisians and the whole hygiene issue, well maybe through their stricter policies, Tunisian restaurants will actually be forced to start giving more importance to hygiene.
    I’m not saying all Tunisian restaurants are dirty, but well, I’ve seen a good share of dirty restaurant kitchens.

    ImperatorKing, well she likes McDonald’s and I like Burger King ๐Ÿ˜›
    Anyway, does it really have to be either big international IT companies or big food chains? I think we should have both.

  • Alex

    I think that u r right. At most:)
    I was so suprised at first time when I come tu Tunisia, that there were no MC or BK! But it’s good 4 me. Now, when I spend much more time in Tunis, I see, that maybe it shld be opened some fastfood chains. Not everybody want to eat or r able to eat:) tunisian food, when they visit Tunisia…Or sometimes they affraid to eat tunisian version of burgers…

    But from my side- as european women, who wants to live in Tunis, I will not even notice McD or BK, if it’d be opened. I really dont need that- just because I like tunisian food and it’s enough 4 me and my family. And I’m not talking about “fast food” as hot dogs or burgers. Much more better r traditional dishes.

    I come to Tunisia at 20thApril. I stay this time for 7 months:) And I hope, that my first dinner will be lablabi or madfouna:) (yes, I know, it’s crazy, but I like it:))

    Greetings from Poland:)

  • Jenn

    Have your read Fast Food Nation yet? It’s appalling how they make their “food”. You oughta read it. I’ve been w/o fast food for almost a year now. (Yeah, THAT bad) hehe

  • MMM

    Alex, I love traditional Tunisian food too. I think the Tunisian cuisine is one of the best in the world, and I totally understand how you wish for your first dinner here to be lablebi or madfouna.

    Jenn, nope, haven’t read it, and don’t think I ever will ๐Ÿ˜›
    I totally get your point though, and I know this stuff is really junk food and that it’s really unhealthy to base your diet around it. I agree. But again those moments were you just crave a juicy yummy burger are stronger than you ๐Ÿ˜›

    But again, the local restaurants are providing even junkier substitutes which aren’t even tasty, so actually those chains would be a bit healthier than what is available now ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Jimbo

    This is quite brilliant. Have you seen in it you travels? Might want to before you go “Size up!” :)

  • Jenn

    I would suggest it though. I mean, it’s not only just junk food. You need to realize that EVERYTHING, from the taste, the look, even the smell, is all produced from a laboratory. It’s all chemicals, man! Not only that, but it talks a lot about the history of fast food, and how conniving their marketing is, etc., etc. The book is more than, “it’s bad for you”. You really oughta check it out. Really.

  • Ramesh Tandon

    Dear Sir or Madam

    Our CHEVIOT Group is a well renowned and professionally managed export oriented industrial house of Calcutta, India. We have our interests in jute textile industry, tea gardens and leather garments. Now we are seriously contemplating to enter fast food chain in India in collaboration with some renowned international food chain.

    We are very keen to look into all reasons that will go in favor of our venturing into this business all over India. Since it is unknown field for us and you are international experts on the subject therefore, may we request you to kindly do us a favor and give us your detailed views on the grounds that go in favor of our venturing into it all over India even though some international chains have already entered India.

    We are seeking your views as you have known all aspects of this industry with respect to every individual country and can really guide us correctly and convincingly with regard to all reasons that show the success of this venture.

    It goes without saying that we would like to become member of your esteemed Organization once we too diversify into this line in collaboration with one of the most renowned international chains.

    We shall be very grateful if you could kindly let us have your kind response at your earliest convenience.

    With thanks and best regards

    Ramesh Tandon
    General Manager (Development)
    Cheviot Company Limited
    24 Park Street
    Calcutta 700016
    Phones: +91-33-32582768 (D), – 3291 9624/5/8
    Post. Box. NO. 9415, Calcutta 700 016, India
    FAX: +91-33-2249 7269, -2217 2488

  • Justin

    Hi I just ran across your article. I found it interesting that Tunisia still has yet to open its market to international fast food chains. I was wondering is Mc Dolly’s still around? You made some very good points about low quality food on the market. Opening up the market to international investors would not only bring in quality products (yes Mc Donalds is not the healthiest of meals but to some serves as a convenient and satisfying alternative)it would also create jobs for the local work force. I am an american who grew up in Tunis and would be interested in the future maybe fanchising in Tunisia. I’d be interested to hear some countering arguments and get some insight on the current market atmosphere in Tunisia.

  • Lidija


    well, if you want to eat fast food from Mc’Donalds or similar international food chain you can go to almost any other country in the world. Not just that Mc’Donalds is symbol of American cultural domination, they have food that is low in nutritions and they have rather bad working conditions and having strict hierarchy. I think you should be more supportive to your local food producers, and you could work more on it’s improvement if you are not totally satisfied.
    best regards from Slovenia.

  • jose

    you fucktards don’t get it. sometimes people want fried chicken, even if they are fully aware it is full of chemicals and hormones and fat and other crapped shipped from far away. We know it’s the most horrible thing in the world, but every once in awhile we’d like to have some.

  • mark

    i’m with Jose. i love the native food from my homeland as well but sometimes you want something different. mcdonalds may be greasy and fatty but full of chemicals? come on. give me a big mac any day over some of the bacteria-laden, salmonella inducing crap i’ve seen sold on the street in most developing countries.

  • jordi

    I am the developper of the concepts Baguette & Baguette and Chickoยดs in Tunisia.

    Would exchange information and opinions with anybody interested in the fast food industry in Tunisia.