US fast-food giant Burger King has officially started operating in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus by opening its first branch on the Nicosia-Kyrenia highway thus ignoring the Republic as a sovereign state.
For the past 20 years, the U.S. fast-food chain had been operating in the north under the brand “Burger City” due to restrictions imposed on the breakaway “state”.
Burger King was unable to operate officially in a region without an official statehood, while there is also a licensed franchise in the Republic of Cyprus.
In essence, the move means Burger King views the Turkish-held north as a different territory or part of Turkey.
Initial attempts to open Burger King stores in the north in 1999 were opposed by the Cyprus Republic.
Turkish media said Burger King is now operating officially in the north after Turkish Tab Food Investments (TFI), the biggest worldwide franchisee of Burger King, bought Citigroup’s a minority stake in the business in China and Turkey.
According to an earlier Reuters report, the deal was to cost TFI some USD 200 mln.
The deal is believed to have opened the doors to TFI to be in a position to take decisions without being too concerned over international restrictions.
However, according to sources within Burger King, the renaming of branches in the north from Burger City to Burger King has the blessings of the International franchise’s headquarters.
According to reports, all the restaurants that currently operate under the Burger City brand will adopt the signs, menus and standards of Burger King.
The development has been described in Turkey as a success story in overcoming the “embargo imposed by Greek Cypriot Authorities”.
Nicosia has so far remained conspicuously silent over the move that challenges the sovereignty of Cyprus.
Istanbul-based TFI, founded by the Kurdoglu family, operates nearly 1,700 Burger King outlets in Turkey and China.
TFI began investing in China in 2012 and now has a network of more than 1,000 Burger King restaurants in more than 150 Chinese cities, according to its website.