Father and son – Suresh Sookdeo (right) and his son Stephen Sookdeo (left) make off with buckets of chicken from KFC Scarborough on Monday July 19th. (Image: VINDRA GOPAUL)
SHASTRI BOODAN

There was no mad rush for fried chicken and other fast foods at Scarborough, Tobago, on Monday July 19th, as the food service sector officially reopened across the country.

When KFC opened its doors around 10 am, only a handful of customers drifted inside.

Tobago resident Clement Williams said people simply do not have the disposable income to spend on fast food.

“Tobago has no tourism, there is nothing to show people, the businesses closed, the parks closed,” he told Guardian Media.

Williams said the fast-food industry was dependent on local and domestic tourists and most operations were clustered in Tobago West in the areas of Scarborough, Crown Point and Bon Accord.  William said many businesses would find it difficult to remain afloat in an economy that is now going in reverse.

He noted that people also were concerned about the safety and quality of food they were consuming.

“Suppose the meat was in cold storage for a few months?” he pointed out.

Fried chicken franchises Royal Castle, Darryl’s Famous Foods and BQ Bites which operate out of the Port Mall in Scarborough, say they have not sent up their prices.  A spokeswoman for Darryl’s and BQ Bites said they would be maintaining the same pricing regime.

She said Darryl’s started 4 years ago

“We have not changed prices,” she told Guardian Media, noting that Darryl’s began operations some four years ago.  “We are in this together, so we are trying our best to bring value meals to our customers.”

At Royal Castle, manager Ravi Toolsie said prices have not gone up. Toolise said the Castle has its loyal customers, and he expects that business should increase back to normal levels within one week. 

However, at KFC, prices appear to have risen. 

Customers Suresh Sookdeo and his son Stephen, who are in Tobago for a short vacation, said when the PM announced the news, they had to get a barrel of KFC. Sookdeo said he did not notice any changes in prices.

“We didn’t get too many options inside, Sookdeo said.  “It was just chicken and chips. We were expecting a crowd, but we were able to walk up to the counter and order.”

He said because of the state of the economy, people would prefer to be spending their money on groceries rather than buy fast food.

Meanwhile, several other well-known food businesses in Scarborough, such as Chef’s and Annie’s, were closed on Monday.