Milagros Bermudez discusses McDonald's plans for its Trinidad restaurant last week. —Photo: Curtis Chase

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The new menu at McDonald's

By By Carla Bridglal

When fast food giant McDonald's opens its newest restaurant at Westmoorings later this month, Trinidadians should be happy to find the menu will carry a distinctive local flavour.

In an interview with the Business Express at advertising agency Lonsdale Saatchi & Saatchi, St Clair last Wednesday, Trinidad marketing manager for Arcos Dorados, the franchise owner and operator for the Trinidad restaurant, Milagros Bermudez, said the menu will feature products adapted specifically to local tastes, available only in Trinidad

"Arcos Dorados takes the taste issue very seriously. We conducted product tests here with locals to identify what is going to be the key to our success here and we are going to cater especially to local tastes. For example, our research has shown that the people here love sauces- just love them. So we are going to have a variety of sauces available for our clients. Also, when you see the menu, I'll not say what right now, because we want when we open our first store the people here will be like 'Wow! McDonald's is doing this for us?' Because it will be so complete. I'm already looking forward to open the restaurant to taste it," she said.

Trinidad will also be the first Caribbean market to feature the Fresh line of items, which offers healthier alternatives like salads, and other menu variations, like fruits with Happy Meals.

"We will be pampering Trinidadians," she added.

The last time McDonald's had restaurants in Trinidad, they were under a different franchise holder. One of the criticisms of those operations was that their menu did not immediately cater to what Trinidadians wanted, and when they attempted variations, it was too little too late.

Bermudez said Arcos Dorados conducted years of research analysing the markets, not only consumers, but also the stability of the economy.

"We discovered that it was pretty stable here. Also, it's amazing all the options that local people have here and we were missing that. Trinidad is very important to us and we are looking forward in investing in this island. The money we have invested in this procress... we don't put a number. We are sure we'll make it back.

"We are not worried about any negatives; we chose Trinidad and we are confident Trinidad will choose us," she said.

The company is also interested in developing the local human resource to handle the running.

"It is important for us to have local people managing. There will only be two foreign employees here – me and the realtor. Besides that everyone is local. We've done the products, the branding and locals provide this as well. We are getting good local support and we take it very seriously. We are recruiting locals and it has been an amazing experience for them. A couple of the managers were on a six months training programme in Curacao. We were surprised by the quality of the applicants. You don't find that everywhere in the world. Even in Puerto Rico we don't even find that level when interviewing managers. People here have Bachelor's and Masters Degrees and they were applying for an opportunity with the McDonald's company. It was incredible to us... We've already recruited 75 people so far," she said.

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