Friday, 1 July 2011

Fast-Food From The Frontline: T.G.I. Friday’s And Tim Hortons In Afghanistan

To the disappointment of uniformed doughnut lovers, Tim Hortons is leaving the front.  The Canadian chain of all things baked and brewed will end a five-year deployment to Kandahar airfield (KAF), as Canadian forces are scheduled to ship out of the country by the end of July.  Popular with both Canadians and non-Canadians, hour-long lines frequently snake out of the coffee shop and down the KAF boardwalk, a hollow quadrangle of stores that hosts friendly pick-up games and the occasional Toby Keith concert at its center.  In Kandahar’s fierce heat, the iced capp machine has been put through its paces.  By the end of most shifts it is nothing more than a quivering mass after sputtering out one last frozen cappuccino.

Around the corner from the Tim Hortons stands the T.G.I. Friday’s, complete with requisite surfboard and guitar latched to the wall, above couples on awkward first dates.  Apart from the complete dearth of children, the equally dry bar and burgers, the errant rocket attack, the camouflaged clientele, and the seemingly all-Bangladeshi staff, you could be in any midwestern, suburban strip mall.

Tim Hortons and T.G.I. Friday’s are among the few fast-food purveyors in Afghanistan to survive a nationwide culling last year.

Back in March 2010, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael T. Hall, a deputy to then-top U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, wrote on an ISAF blog: “This is a warzone – not an amusement park… In the coming weeks and months, concessions such as Orange Julius, Burger King, Pizza Hut [and] Dairy Queen…will close their doors,” in an effort to help the alliance, “accommodate the troop increase and get refocused on the mission at hand.” It’s reported that in private, McChrystal told senior officers he was shuttering the food-court detritus because he didn’t want to be the first American general to tell a grieving mother that her son died delivering frozen pizza.

To read the rest of this article, visit, where it was originally published.   

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