The Golden Arches are getting planted in new turf, and this time it’s off in faraway Kazakhstan. After "years of debate," the chain finally expects to open 15 locations in the coming months, the first of which is a state-of-the-art behemoth that seats 200 in Astana, the nation’s capital:
The chain’s Kazakh franchisee, Kairat Boranbayev, told a Russian news channel that people can expect locations to have the standard stuff — Big Macs, McNuggets, and whatnot — but as is typical when entering a new market, there are also plans to cater items to local tastes. In Kazakhstan, that would likely mean including horse meat, which is exactly the burger-protein reporters figured Boranbayev had in mind when he said, "We’ll try to adjust our consumers’ requests and cater to Kazakh national cuisine."
Unfortunately, this was news to McDonald’s horrified press team. Reps hustled out a release clarifying, for the record, that horse-meat burgers aren’t being considered by any of the new Kazakh locations. An all-equine patty might do just fine over there, but that particular animal has never been anything but a publicity nightmare for big corporations, thus the presumably all-hands-on-deck clarification. They insist their newest franchisee was simply misquoted.
The move into Kazakhstan is an attempt to shore up McDonald’s business in the region, which has been slipping lately. Elsewhere globally, the chain’s trying to appeal to customers by getting fancier or (in the case of Russia) even going 100 percent local.