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Restaurateur: No need for unease over new KFC Portmore outlet

BY KIMONE THOMPSON Associate editor — features thompsonk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 06, 2014    

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SCORES of job seekers are expected to descend on the New Testament Church of God in Bayside, Portmore, today, hoping to snatch managerial, supervisory and team member positions at a new KFC restaurant set to open in the municipality.

Mark Myers, managing director of KFC franchise holder Restaurants of Jamaica, told the Jamaica Observer that the new location will be seeking to fill 40 positions, and that the majority of the staff are expected to come from Portmore.

The new restaurant, located on Passagefort Drive, abutting 25th Avenue in the community of West Cumberland, is not set to open until the third quarter of this year, and is still in the construction phase.

Some residents seem pleased about the development, citing the convenience of having the restaurant in their backyard as it were, but others are concerned about possible negative effects on the community.

They argue that the fried chicken outlet will attract rodents and cause their property values to decline. They say, too, that they felt slighted by the company and the municipal council for not having had dialogue with them prior to the start of construction.

A female resident, who declined giving her name, said a group of homeowners from 25th Avenue recently met and discussed the issue.

"Some of the things we discussed were we need to know about fencing, we need to know about garbage storage, because if it's not properly managed the community is going to be overrun with rodents. Some persons were also concerned about the direction of the wind and how high they will put their vent in respect of their homes," she said.

"Some things cannot be avoided, like noise, but we expect that KFC, being the company it is, to meet us and let us know what their plans are," the resident added.

"I don't like the idea, honestly," said Mellonie Wellington.

A homeowner who gave her name only Donna said: "I definitely know it will affect the value of my property."

She said she was surprised to see the construction, as housing developer Gore said the area would have been maintained as a green area.

Prior to the construction, residents used the land as a short-cut between the community and the growing commercial area dotted with shops, petrol stations, supermarkets, auto parts stores, and bus and taxi stations. A hardware company also used the area to store material and equipment.

Sean Barrett and Gregory Robinson see things differently, perhaps because they are renters and not homeowners.

"It nuh badda me. It convenient 'cause wi nuh haffi go a [Portmore] mall," Barrett said.

"It doesn't affect me much," Robinson added. "In fact, it's a good convenience. As far as rodents go, we already have a lot of food joints nearby and there's not much of a rodent problem now, so I don't foresee us having any issue with that."

Responding to their concerns, the Restaurants of Jamaica boss told the Observer that the company, which operates over 60 fast food eateries under the KFC and Pizza Hut brands, has very high pest control and waste management standards that often exceed those of the local players in the market. On top of that, Myers apologised to those who felt they were not consulted.

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