Multinational fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) could have a fight on its hands if it tries to open a takeaway outlet in Byron Bay, mayor Simon Richardson has warned.
KFC representatives and Byron Shire Council staff are this week expected to meet and discuss the plan to open a franchise in the town, long known for fighting off corporate giants and their brands that locals say would spoil its unique ambience.
In the 1990s, burger chain McDonald’s tried and failed after a fierce community campaign that opposed it. The Club Med chain met the same fate that decade when it wanted to set up an upmarket resort at the old Byron Bay Beach Resort site.
Cr Richardson says having such a ‘symbolic’ global fast-food chain in town would destroy Byron Bay’s special character and damage this unique branding as a tourist destination.
Many young tourists are attracted to Byron’s laidback, more natural style preferring it over the glitzy high-rise Gold Coast.
Cr Richardson predicts the KFC bid will be the next community fight to retain its uniqueness, not long after the success earlier this year of the fight that helped stop liquor franchise Dan Murphy’s opening an outlet in the CBD.
He told ABC North Coast Radio this morning, ‘the best and perhaps only way to stop it is if the community speaks long enough and loud enough and let Kentucky Fried know there’s no social licence for it here and that it would be opposed as strongly and vehemently as possible, and maybe KFC will have a think about their own brand and might work out it’s a battle not worth fighting’.
‘KFC isn’t welcome in the CBD of Byron,’ Byron United (chamber of commerce) president Paul Waters told Echonetdaily.
‘I don’t believe our members would be supportive at all; we want to try and preserve the unique and eclectic nature of Byron Bay as much as we can… given that there has already been a substantial move on our retail property by national business
‘Although I believe we have a pretty good mix on balance.’
Mr Waters said there was already a number of chicken shops in town and they were providing a quality service.
Byron Bay is not a big brands-free zone though, as there are already major franchises and chains operating in the town, with the number growing as smaller business are squeezed out by the huge rents.