American fast-food franchises are exiting Thailand faster than you can say “burger and fries”.
Two weeks after Global Consumer Plc. announced it was terminating its franchise agreement for the A&W chain made famous for its root beer floats, R&R Restaurant Group said it was giving up on the Carl’s Jr. burger chain.
Both companies said they lost too much money during the coronavirus pandemic to keep the franchise.
Carl’s Jr. will cease operations in Thailand at the end of March.
“We tried to get through it during the second half of 2021. But we were forced to import our ingredients solely from the U.S. due to the restrictions imposed by CKE Restaurants Holdings,” R&R said.
Carl’s opened its first branch in Thailand at Central Festival Pattaya Beach in 2012. It now has only two branches: at the Holiday Inn Sukhumvit and in Pattaya and their menus have been pared down to just a couple burgers and chicken sandwiches.
While burger fans will be sad to see unique items like the guacamole bacon burger go, Carl’s, with only 10 years in Thailand, didn’t have the cultural impact of A&W, a favorite of Thai teens in the 1990s, when U.S. chain restaurants and stores were in far shorter supply.
A&W first arrived in Thailand in 1983 at Central Ladprao. On Jan. 18, A&W closed one of its oldest branches at Siam Square.
“For a lot of Bangkokians who were teenagers in the 1990s or 2000s, (it’s) a part of their youth closing as well. It was the quintessential place to meet or hang out around Siam Square,” tweeted Channel News Asia Thailand correspondent Saksith Sayasombut on March 8.
Global Consumer said it lost more than 70 million baht in 2021 alone. For now, its 26 branches will continue to operate as normal until further notice.