Last week was a big one for South Africa – and a particularly big one for Cape Town. Bon Jovi performed at the Cape Town Stadium and, as those who read my last blog will know, rocked it into a different dimension of awesomeness, thousands and thousands of young girls swooned at the arrival of Justin Bieber and camped out for his concert, also at the Cape Town Stadium, and, met with equal fan obsession, South Africa’s very first Burger King opened its doors in Cape Town’s city centre. And while the two concerts are over and done with and only remain as grand memories in the minds of the lucky ones who went, that Burger King is set on having a long career.
I first heard that Burger King would be coming to South Africa while I was still living in the USA. And, though I then had the chance to indulge in Whoppers all the time, it was still pretty exciting that the chain would be opening up in South Africa. Not that I’m particularly obsessed with burgers, but perhaps it’s the novelty of it – and the notion that the world is opening its eyes to this country. We like being included as ‘part of the world’. South Africa hasn’t been a go-to place for that long. When I first moved to the USA before the 2010 World Cup and I’d tell people I was from South Africa, I was met with a lot of ‘huhs?’ but, post-World Cup, knowledge of the reality and possibility of South Africa seemed a lot more widespread. And big international acts coming to South Africa and international stores opening up here just makes it all a little more real. South Africa – no longer that tip of a faraway continent that no one really knows about, but an actual location for people to visit and invest in and fall in love with.
But, then again, perhaps it really is just about the burgers. We have McDonald’s (lots and lots and lots of them) and a local burger chain called Steers (these really are very, very epic) but Burger King was always the one seen in movies and heard about that we didn’t have. So when Burger King opened up, South Africans were ready to experience it. I know people who waited in line for four hours to get their hands on a Whopper on the first day of opening. That’s a long wait for a burger.
I waited a few days more – for the crowd to die down and normality to return – and headed to Cape Town’s Burger King over the weekend. I sort of knew where it had opened up but had to drive around for a few minutes to find it and, when I finally did, I kept on going and drove straight home. You see, I spotted the Burger King because I spotted the people heading to Burger King, people waiting in line inside Burger King, people waiting in line outside of Burger King, people waiting in line with bends and turns going on and on and on from here to Timbuktu for Burger King. I would have thought that after a few days people wouldn’t wait for hours to get their hands on a Whopper. I was obviously severely mistaken. But this is one of those moments where I won’t join the crowd – I’ve had Burger King before, after all, and in numerous countries at that. And while I’m still pretty excited to try out a South African Whopper, I like my fast food fast, so I’ll be back in a few weeks when the collective burger excitement has calmed down and some real sense of normality has returned.
Check out http://www.burgerking.co.za for all SA’s Burger King updates.