Jokowi wants Starbucks, int’l fast food chains at toll road rest areas replaced with local businesses

President Joko Widodo. AFP file photo / ROMEO GACAD
President Joko Widodo. AFP file photo / ROMEO GACAD

Toll road rest stops (or “rest areas” as they are locally known) usually consist of a good mix of foreign food and beverage chains and local snack chains and eateries.

But during his inauguration of the Kartasura-Sragen toll road in Central Java on Sunday, President Joko Widodo said that he wants to see fewer Starbucks, McDonald’s, and KFCs in rest areas to give small local businesses a better chance.

“Don’t let it get to the point that economic activities are dominated by foreign brands. I ask that all rest areas don’t sell the likes of McD, Kentucky (KFC), or Starbucks and that they be replaced with sate, soto, tahu guling, gudeg,” Jokowi said, as quoted by Detik.

Jokowi added that he has verbally instructed the Public Works Ministry to work with regional governments to make this a reality, with failure to do so resulting in his issuance of a formal Presidential Instruction (Inpres).

While many would expect the foreign chains to cry foul at Jokowi’s blatant call for economic protectionism, PT Fast Food Indonesia, the sole franchisee of KFC in Indonesia, said they wouldn’t be hurt by such a policy if it came to pass as their rest area restaurants contribute little to their overall revenue.

“In truth we were asked by rest area developers [to set up our restaurants there] so there’s a good combination [of food options at the rest areas],” said Fast Food Indonesia Corporate Secretary Justinus Dalimin Juwono, as quoted by Detik today.

“I have seen that local [businesses in rest areas] get so much attention. Us big brands are just there to attract people to the rest areas, but when they’re there they can pick from many options.”

Starbucks, McDonalds, and other fast food chain franchisees have not commented on Jokowi’s plan.

We’d probably have to side with the KFC representative in this case. The way things are at most rest areas now, we believe there’s already a good number of local delicacies like tahu sumedang and pisang goreng for every Starbucks. Choice is always good.

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