A fast food chicken restaurant in Iran using the brand name of U.S. fast food giant KFC was shuttered just days after it opened because its interior resembled the American flag.
According to the Iranian news agency Tasnim, KFC Halal --which is not affiliated with KFC or its parent company Yum! Brands--opened in West Tehran Sunday after securing approval from the country's Ministry of Industry, Trade and Mines. The news outlet called the outpost “the first American branch" of its kind.
On Sunday, the restaurant’s official Instagram account posted pictures of people lining up inside waiting to order.
But on Tuesday, Iranian police shut down KFC Halal and left a “closed until further notice” sign on the door.
Tasnim (via Mashable) initially reported that the restaurant was shut down due to the highly Americanized décor including a striped wall that “too closely” resembled a U.S. flag. Its presence could be "seen as a part of American influence into Iranian culture. The U.S. is one of Iran's major enemies and this will have grave dangers for the country," according to the agency.
— Tasnim News Agency (@Tasnimnews_EN) November 3, 2015
But the manager of newly opened fast food chicken restaurant says the closure was over a misunderstanding of brand ownership.
"The shutting down of Halal KFC was due to a misunderstanding," Abbas Pazuki, the manager of Halal KFC, told Tasnim News Agency, reiterating that police thought the restaurant was associated with America’s Yum! Brands, which owns KFC.
"We are part of a brand known as Halal KFC, which comes from Turkey. It belongs to Muslims and its target market is Muslim nations," said Pazuki.
According to the Iranian News Labor Agency, Ali Fazeli, head of the Iranian chamber of commerce, confirmed that the KFC location in Tehran has no connection with KFC in the U.S.
"In accordance with orders from the Supreme Leader, we do not give any authorization to Western brands" in the fast food sector, Fazeli said.
The recent nuclear weapons agreement reached between Iran and several Western countries has been seen as a potential gateway by some businesses to gain entry to Iran. But Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, has called the establishment of Western style fast food restaurants “a red line that would not be crossed.”