I can’t even begin to explain how thrilled I was when I saw the first Papa John’s Pizzeria open up in Costa del Este. Of all the fast-food pizza chains in the U.S., Papa John’s was my favorite. Now there’s one in Punta Paitilla and I’m not sure if it opened up yet, but the last time I was in Brisas del Golf there was one on its way. I get excited every time I see an American company open up here. It’s no that I want Panama to become the United States. There are reasons I left home. In some ways I hope Panama never changes. However, seeing a little slice of home show up here from time to time is awesome.
Yesterday, while driving onto the Corredor Sur, right in front of me was this Cinnabon/Papa John’s van. I’m a big fan of the Pecanbon too, so my stomaching started growling the whole time I was stuck behind the moving billboard. Some of you reading these posts may not realize how many American companies are here, so I thought I’d take a second and fill you in.
McDonald’s is huge here. They’re on every corner in Panama City, and you even see them out in the interior of the country, like in Coronado and Chitre. McDonald’s is great for non-Spanish speakers because we can still order food fairly easily. If you know the numbers you’re all set. You just say combo numero uno or dos or cinco.
Wendy’s and Burger King are both here as well, although not as popular. At all of these fast food chains you’ll see one combo you don’t see in the States. They all serve fried chicken. You can pick up a quarter pounder with cheese combo or a fried chicken leg and thigh combo. Pizza Hut and Domino’s are very popular here too. Taco Bell just popped up over the last few years. They started out only in the mall food courts, but have since opened several free standing locations. Carls Jr. just opened up in Metro Mall and Johnny Rockets in Albrook Mall.
TGI Friday’s, Bennigan’s, Hard Rock Cafe, and Hooters all have locations here in the city. Customer service isn’t usually what you’re used to back home, but at least you can get wings, a burger, and a beer from time to time.
Gap, Banana Republic, Tiffany & Company, Cartier, Ralph Lauren, Kenneth Cole, XOXO, Victoria’s Secret, and Zara are a few stores you might be familiar with. They’re all located here inside of the malls. Sears was here at one time, but isn’t any longer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pop up again sometime in the future.
Rumors have been going around for a long time that Walmart will be headed to Panama. I don’t know if that will be a good thing or a bad thing. The Disney rumor has gone around too. It started out as an April Fool’s Day joke stating that Disney was coming here and buying up a lot of the beachfront land and renaming towns to match popular Disney movie towns like Agrabar. However, aside from that joke, I have been told by respectable contractors that Disney has visited and is planning to buy several plots of land. Remember though, Disney owns hotels, cruise ships, restaurants, stores, maybe they just want to build a timeshare. So even if they do show up, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Latin American Walt Disney World is what’s in store, although that would be great and would bring with it a lot of jobs for the locals.
I’ll finish this post off by saying this: Please…for the love of God…will someone open up a Boston Market here? I want some good ol’ fashioned comfort food. Give me good rotisserie chicken, meatloaf, stuffing, cornbread, baked mac & cheese. Oh how I miss biscuits and gravy (maybe that can be added to the Boston Market menu). I’m just sayin’…think about it. A Starbucks wouldn’t hurt either.
Thanks for reading.
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