Serbian McDonalds…The Place to Be?

McCafe - McDonald's in Novi Sad, Serbia

Serbian McDonald’s, the place to be…

Generally I avoid fast food restaurants. I look at them as a last-ditch attempt to feed myself before I reach starvation. Such was the case the last time I ate at a McDonald’s in the US: I had flown all day, finally ending up at some very small northwestern town where everything closed around 6pm. It was after 10PM, and I was starving from my 12 hour work day and the only thing I could find open was a McDonald’s, so I ate there, and regretted it immediately. In the US, McDonald’s and other fast food joints are seen as using cheap ingredients and cheap labor to further the success of the unhealthy mega-chains. Many times McDonald’s, despite its “family friendly” attitude, and its merit worthy charity, the Ronald McDonald house for families with terminally ill children, is still seen as the bad guy. It is blamed for the juvenile obesity epidemic among other American problems. In Europe, I tried to avoid fast food restaurants, as I would at home, but upon passing a few, was lured inside by the stunning differences. These didn’t look like our fast food places. In fact, they hardly seemed like the same companies at all! McDonald’s was a pleasant cafe, using hard wood, stainless steel finishes, and modern decor to entice customers. Free WiFi was the norm, and they even had a few computers on which customers could surf the web while chowing down on Velika Pomfrit! No more red and yellow plastic chunky chairs and filthy bathrooms like in the US. Instead, I was met with plush couches, armchairs, lounge areas, and sparkling clean facilities. How refreshing! Not only this, but the McDonalds served beer! More than one kind! This would be abhorrent in the US. Also, I saw more than one McCafe, which is sort of a pastry shop/espresso bar serving up European delicacies such as pain au chocolat and baklava. Umm….Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
The Pizza Hut I ate out purely out of curiosity was more of a chic meeting place for upscale executives and couples out on dates that it was for a tired, hungry, family of 5 trying to keep hungry mouths quiet. Also, I noticed that most of the employees at these facilities spoke at least some English and the service was far beyond that at most equivalent local fast food places. And nearly every American fast food joint in Serbia was packed all day. These places were extremely popular, despite the fact that their prices were above their Serbian equivalents.
Why the difference? Could it be that in Serbia, everything is so cheap compared to American standards and salaries, that the mega chains can use the same money to go much further than they can in the US? Or perhaps, it’s that they see Europe as a new front, with less of a history there, and more of a chance to make a good impression? Or maybe it’s because of the new French President of McDonald’s European operations, who has been credited with the recent “McMakeover”.
As one article suggests, Europeans value the experience more than convenience. They prefer to linger rather than rush off. And in that sense, I guess I’m more European. I’d prefer to people watch over a McDonald’s served espresso and pastry while blogging, than to rush through the drive through and speed off about my day in isolation…
So if you’re ever in Serbia and craving something familiar, check out the local McDs, KFC, or Pizza Hut. You won’t be disappointed.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25784705/ns/business-bloomberg_businessweek/

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6 thoughts on “Serbian McDonalds…The Place to Be?

  1. The only thing I have to add is that I miss McDonalds from US/Canada. They use different cooking oil there (I believe it’s canola oil in US/Canada mixed with some animal fat or something) here they use sunflower oil. Therefore the taste is totally different than in Canada/US which is kind of disappointing đŸ˜¦

    • Yes, I agree. And also, in Belgrade, you have to ask for ketchup to go with your fries, and then you have to pay for it, and they only give you one little serving. Also, the fries are way less salty and I find myself having to ask for a little “so” as well….

      • I’m from Serbia but I currently live in Jerusalem due to my dad’s job. The only downside to Israeli McDonald’s restaurants is that there’s only a handful of McD’s that aren’t kosher. (I like my burgers with cheese!). Whenever I ask for ketchup or salt (the fries are dry in both countries) in Israel, I always have leftover fries even with the largest fry option! It’s stupid to charge customers for KETCHUP! although, Serbian McD has an excellent dessert menu!

    • It’s too bad that you experienced this kind of service. I didn’t have a similar experience. At one McDonalds in Belgrade, I was able to find a really helpful, English speaking employee, who wrote down directions to me regarding how to get back to the city center. They were very detailed, and she really saved my day! I have not visited the McDonalds in Subotica.

      • I am Serbian but I live in Australia. I’ve eaten McDonalds today and they messed up our order. The food is nice but the service is the worst you can expect. They’re so back chatty and have a high temper. I’ve even witnessed a manager break one of the check out register thingies. It was a sight as he noticed everyone looking. What a shame, I’d love to go to my home country and try it. I’ve even heard from my mother that instead of having apple pie they have strawberry pie in Serbia and that they’ve never considered apple pie.

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