September 11, 2006

The state of fast food in La Ceiba

Hoo-boy! We are going big time in La Ceiba. Kentucky Fried Chicken just announced home delivery! We can now "Recibe el exquisito sabor de Kentucky" (receive the exquisite flavor of Kentucky) in our own homes. The full service menu is available and the minimum purchase is only L. 150 (about $8 U.S.). Since we estimate it costs about L.50 in gas to drive into town and wait in the drive-thru lane, this is a great deal. Here is the menu:

Those prices sound pretty high when you are thinking in U.S. dollars, don't they? There are 18.90 lempiras per U.S. dollar so it's not that bad. However, many Hondurans will never taste these foods because, for example, the '#4 Bucket' of 20 pieces at L. 489 is just under a week's pay for about 50% of the population. Even if someone doesn't have a big family to feed, a 'Duo Kentucky Combo' at L.73 takes a pretty big bite out of that L.150-300 daily salary of middle class workers.

When KFC had their grand opening, people were lined up for a block outside the building. Of course, the guards with shotguns made sure that no one got unruly or tried to 'take cuts in line.'

There are tons of Honduran fried chicken places. Some of them aren't bad and the prices are much lower, but at those places you can't get fake mashed potatoes or
fresh, fluffy biscuits, so I guess that explains KFC's popularity.

Pizza Hut has always had home delivery. We've just recently gotten two new choices. I've been seeing these in the commercials on TV for a long time, but they just arrived here not too long ago.

KFC is the latest entry into a big fast food market in La Ceiba. We also have Burger King, Popeye's, Church's, Wendy's, and Pizza Hut. This is an old picture. The Super King is probably about L.21.95 now.

I think one family owns all of these restaurants. Apparently, they have a monopoly in La Ceiba, because even though there are a dozen McDonald's in both Tegucigalpa (the government capital) and San Pedro Sula (the industrial capital), we don't have a single McD in La Ceiba.

We also have Applebees ("eating good in the neighborhood"). This one is quite expensive by Honduran standards with dinner for two running about L400-500. The service is terrible but the food is generally good and a much different variety than what is available anywhere else in La Ceiba. Like many restaurants, Applebees automatically adds the customary 10% tip to the check -- that's my theory of why the service is so bad.

A funny thing is that many of the menu items retain their American names, but when I order something in English, the order takers don't know what I'm ordering because they only recognize it pronounced with a Spanish accent. Another interesting thing is that when I was in the U.S., I never ate at any of these places because there were always so many better (less fried) choices. Now I hardly go a week without a Big Crunch and going to Applebees is a special treat.

To read about authentic Honduran fast food, see this article.
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