Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's deputy chief of staff

Fast food chain's Queen St aspirations rattle business owners

KFC is considering having a presence on Queen St.
KFC is considering having a presence on Queen St.

Fried chicken giant KFC is the latest fast-food franchise eyeing up prime real estate on Queen St, the Weekend Herald can reveal.

It will be the chain's first eatery there and follows parent company Restaurant Brands' opening American burger chain Carls Jr this year, amid furore over its high-calorie-content products and stores in lower socio-economic areas.

Obesity experts say the growing number of takeaway shops on Auckland's busiest street is contributing to New Zealanders' growing waistlines. The new KFC will bring the number of fast-food outlets in the 1km strip from Britomart to Aotea Square to at least 43, not counting ethnic-inspired eateries, according to a tally by the Herald.

Queen St already has three McDonald's, three Burger Kings, four Subways, two Starbucks, 13 dessert shops and six kebab stores.

KFC was coy about it's new restaurant, which has already rattled Queen St's corporate tenants who don't want the chain as their new neighbour.

"KFC does not have a site on Queen St so it wouldn't be appropriate for us to comment," a spokesman said. "However, we agree that obesity is a health issue in New Zealand that we all need to take seriously."

Tenants located around the 15-level Q&V building on the corner of Victoria and Queen St are worried the chain is looking at a ground-floor site currently occupied by an ANZ branch. Their lease is up within the year.

Monique Nalder, property manager for the owner, Ben Cook's the Cook Property Group, said they hadn't spoken to KFC but admitted they had had to calm the nerves of its other leaseholders.

"As far as KFC moving into the bank, we heard that rumour as well, one of our tenants got all upset about it.

"We've never ever spoken to them (KFC) about it, never had any dealings with them."

The closest KFC branch is on Quay Street, just over a kilometre from the bottom of Queen St. KFC already has 10 stores in central Auckland.

Fight the Obesity Epidemic chairwoman Robyn Toomath said local bylaws didn't allow for councils to restrict the number of fast-food outlets. Locals in Motueka tried to stop a McDonald's being built in 2008 but the Tasman District Council was powerless.

"I think this is an area we seriously need to look at," Dr Toomath said. "The population needs to have greater control over their local environment."

Auckland Council urban design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid said the council would speak to KFC about its plans in an attempt to avoid "visual pollution".

When McDonald's opened at Britomart before the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the restaurant was asked to use subtle street signage.

Marisa Bidois, chief executive of the Restaurant Association, said business was thriving at takeaway shops so the demand was there for new stores.

- NZ Herald

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