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Yugoslavs Relish Opening of McDonald's in Belgrade

March 24, 1988|Associated Press

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — Communism suffered its first Big Mac attack today as McDonald's opened a restaurant in Yugoslavia, and police were called in to keep customers who lined up for hours from getting too unruly under the golden arches.

"I just wanted to taste genuine American hamburgers," said Milica Nikolic, a high school student who waited for three hours to taste her first Big Mac.

People curiously examined the renovated restaurant's plush interior and the back-lit signs depicting the hamburgers, french fries, milk shakes and other fare more familiar in the West. It also featured amber-colored tables and floors, pastel-colored upholstery, modern art paintings and discreet illumination.

Line Snakes Around Block

The fast-food outlet, located on a downtown square, had drawn crowds in recent days, and they began gathering long before it opened today.

Police kept watch on the lines of customers snaking around the block, and they regulated the number who came inside to avoid overcrowding.

"No opening of a restaurant in Belgrade has created such a sensation as this one today," one policeman said.

"I think this restaurant has no competition in Belgrade," said Milica Danic, a housewife who treated her son to a cheeseburger. "It is much cleaner, the service is faster, the interior is nicer and it is not too expensive."

Native Dish Similar

The Belgrade media have suggested that the success of McDonald's in Yugoslavia depends on its acceptance by citizens long accustomed to a hamburger-like fast-food dish called the Pljeskavica: ground pork and onions on a bun.

"In fact, this is a clash between the Big Mac and Pljeskavica," said Vesna Milosevic, an official of Genex, a Yugoslav state-run enterprise that has contracted a joint venture agreement with McDonald's.

"Our aim is not to destroy the Pljeskavica on the Yugoslav market," said Predrag Dostanic, managing director of the Genex-McDonald's. "We want to change customs of the local people used to completely different eating habits."

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