The ubiquitous bun-tikki underwent a makeover in October 1996, when American burger giant McDonald’s opened its first-ever India outlet at Basant Lok in Delhi. Twenty-one years and a few menu changes later, on Thursday afternoon, it closed its doors, like 43 other outlets in the national capital. The iconic giant closed 43 of 55 outlets on Thursday, as they lacked ‘eating house licences’. McDonald’s India Pvt Ltd ( MIPL) outlets in North and East India are managed by Connaught Plaza Restaurants Private Limited (CPRL). Both have been at loggerheads since August 2013, when CPRL’s Vikram Bakshi was removed as the managing director.
According to a statement issued by MIPL, the closure is temporary. “The eating house licences of a number of McDonald’s restaurants in Delhi have expired. The board of CPRL is working to obtain the required licenses. Pending this, CPRL is temporarily suspending the operations of the affected restaurants. We apologise for the inconvenience,” the statement read.
Two decades ago, when the Happy Meal (burger+cola +french fries+toy) was introduced, it gave a deafening blow to other burger joints. Winding lines outside the Basant Lok outlet indicated the emergence of the big American dream, as Sunday family outings revolved around a visit to the burger joint.
Today, the lights are off and a piece of paper on the door reads, “Due to unavoidable circumstances, the operations of this McDonald’s restaurant stands suspended till further notice.” The staff inside is aware of the prying eyes of children and adults alike, all wondering what went wrong.
The notice was also stuck to the shutter of several outlets across the city, including the Jangpura and Connaught Place outlets. Meanwhile, at the PVR Anupam Complex in Saket, it was business as usual. The staff were unaware of any closure notice.
There was uncertainty among some employees, however, regarding their future. MIPL, however, said that CPRL had notified employees, landlords and suppliers beforehand. “We understand that CPRL is retaining the employees of affected restaurants and will pay them their salaries during the period of suspension,” the MIPL statement said.