Trinis line up for chicken and sauces

I was at West Mall (arguably the best mall in Trinidad) the other day..when some friends decided that they were craving McDonald’s. Little did I know that it meant waiting in a 30-40 minute line!! (Well, I shouldn’t be so hypocritical..I’ve done that before..but in my car, at the drive thru..after a long night out in Miami..waiting for 4:00am to roll around and breakfast to start..but never like the below, in plain sight!!!)

McDonald's reopens in Trinidad

the line outside of McDonalds at West Mall. SERIOUSLY?

The McDonald’s franchise recently reopened after pulling out of Trinidad 8 years ago. Apparently they did a poor job of “catering to local tastes” and didn’t account for “Trini’s love for chicken” the first time around. This time though, under the helm of Arcos Dorado – the world’s largest McDonald’s franchisee, and the exclusive owner, operator and grantor of McDonald’s in Latin America and the Caribbean – they are back with a vengeance. Just check out their menu. It’s clear that chicken is center stage (in what other country can you buy buckets of chicken at McDonald’s?):

McDonald's reopens in Trinidad

The menu..developed with local tastes in mind..

According to an article that appeared in the Express,

“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.”  source

According to another article in Newsday,

For their menu McDonalds has acquired Halal Certification which is a recognition that their products are permissible under Islamic law. They have also assured that their products would be served the “TT way” which offers customers the ketchup option with their meals. One noticeably new item on the menu is the McCrispy Chicken which offers customers several chicken combos as well as the family pack which includes ten pieces of chicken, two large fries, two large drinks and two Happy Meals.” source

Chicken? and SAUCES!! Damn! Who woulda thunk? Sounds like a recipe for success!

McDonald's reopens in Trinidad

and obviously, it's working..

(Not everyone seems to be pleased though. Health Minister Fuad Khan banned McDonalds from making a $64,000 donation to the Wendy Fitzwilliam Pediatric Hospital because “of the link between the fast food industry and childhood obesity and a number of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.” He said he would not allow the fast food giant to practice “subliminal advertising” inside the pediatric ward.) source

While I applaud McDonald’s for doing their homework the second time around, I have mixed feelings about seeing so many Trinis willing to line up for fast food! Especially when there are so many cheaper, local options available. Not only that, but Trinidad has the highest case of diabetes in the Caribbean! source Surely McDonald’s isn’t helping this statistic.


Everywhere I turn there is an American fast food chain – Wendy’s, Papa John’s, Domino’s, Subway, Churches, Popeyes, Pollo Tropical, KFC.

Trinidad never used to be like this..

What do you think about the recent proliferation of American fast food chains in Trinidad?



Filed under Life in Trinidad

19 responses to “Trinis line up for chicken and sauces

  1. Tanya

    Chicken and SAUCES, yup, pretty much sums up how to be a successful fast food restaurant in Trinidad. I always make fun of my Mom ’cause anytime I’m buying food out, or even dishing out food for myself at home, she’s always like ‘Don’t forget the sauce!!!’ lol.

    • Yeah I never realized how big of a deal sauces are here! But now that I think about it, no meal is complete without it! I just went to Irie Bites and couldn’t believe the amount of sauces they had to offer!!

      Don’t forget the sauce Tanya!

  2. You got me craving for some McDonald’s girl !

  3. Sheldon

    Sooo yeah, I remember when mcd’s was last in trini… Not a great success but this time around I think the market is ready for it and they will prob do very well. My only concern is that “having it the TT way” will be more like:
    “yeah sir, whas yuh order? Wha yuh feel dis is, ah art gallery? Stop watchin de pictears and order sumtin nah. Yuh feel yuh is de only one in de line or wha? Wha yuh say? Yuh doh want no pickles? Wha yuh feel dis is burger king? Look take a big Mac and move to de side fuh meh please!”

    • Well, you’re probably right. But according to the article I read, they’ve put a lot of emphasis on training and really want it to set a standard in the industry. I may just have to try it out to get a sense of what the service is like!

      When they opened I don’t think that they could have anticipated the type of response they would get. Their store could stand to be twice the size! When people have to wait around to pick up their order it gets really chaotic!

      Someone told me that people are coming from all parts of the country to go to the McDonald’s at West Mall. So, you’re right..the market is ready it seems.

      Just as long as they have their sauces!

  4. Jara Fleishman

    Waitress: What would you like?
    Me: Chicken fingers and french fries….please don’t forget the bbq sauce and honey mustard….thanks. Oh! And my coke please thank you…
    Danielle: O M G! We’re at Houston’s! Can you order something else other than chicken fingers and fries?!


  5. Sandra Farah

    Great post, Danielle. I just cannot believe this response by the Trinis! It’s funny, but that would be the LAST place I would want to go, especially when there is so much great local food at good prices to choose from. If they get the service right then that will be good, but this certainly cannot be called Fast Food when you have to line up for 1/2 hour just to get to the register! I can understand parents doing this for their kids once in a while … we all know how we do things for our children that we would really prefer not to. But I saw a bunch of adults there with no kids attached. Crazy!

  6. darlene Rampersad

    In my experience, this is only for a time, Trini’s love to try out new places, you should have seen the line when ColdStone just opened, and Churches, and Wendy’s to name a few in recent memory, but while we do eat a lot of fast foods (check out the stats on KFC t’dad sales in comparison to other parts), i assure you is only fassness that drives people to line up for so long to be one of the first to “have a taste” it will soon die down, and if there food is any good they will get a fair share of the market, but as you said, we have many many choices… I think the only place i see a long line EVERYTIME i go, is the pholourie people at the food court on the savannah and Richard’s bake an Shark at Maracas!

  7. Sandra Farah

    That is absolutely right. I almost said something about that in my comment above. EVERY single afternoon after school I would buy some from de lady in de square right outside my elementary school. At my secondary school I don’t remember there being a pholourie lady nearby, but then I used to sometimes make your grandmother stop somewhere in Aranjuez on the way home to get some 🙂

  8. Cheyenne Baptiste

    Great post Danielle! Welcome to the United States of Trinidad & Tobago. It is ironic that we call places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King “fast food”, yet it takes forever to get an order of fries.
    I am looking forward to trying their chicken. Seeing that McDonald’s in Trinidad is adapting a global brand into their local ‘flavour’, a box of McChicken doesn’t seem like a fowl idea!

  9. Ceola

    “I was at West Mall (arguably the best mall in Trinidad)”
    I’m still stuck on this ^ ! Looks like an adventure in downtown POS and a trip to the East is in order! Lemme know when you up for a shopping excursion, lol.

  10. Natasha

    I wouldn’t consider Pollo Tropical as an American fast food chain. Although many of the restaurants are in the US and southern Florida, they sell mostly Latin food.

  11. Tony

    me and d family favorite resturant

  12. Normally I do not read post on blogs, however I wish to say
    that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it!
    Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite great post.

  13. Can McDonald’s substitute hops bread or bake (noun) for the flimsy American bun ? Trinis and Germans want belly-full
    bread so that they can do more work. Have you ever examined the heavy-duty European bread ? It’s full of value for your money.

  14. Kevin

    I first applaud minister Khan for not taking U.S. corporate bribe (aka charitable donation ) second the American fast food industry is one of the biggest contributors to poor health among lower income Americans, processed foods, antibiotics etc, it breaks my heart to see my fellow trinis consuming the American type foods, living in the U.S I have always maintained my west Indian way of eating which has enabled me to have better health than most people my age.

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