It's official. Lagoa, in the Algarve, will have it’s first fast food restaurant. The works started a month ago in Rua dos Vales, Lagoa, on one side of the N125 road behind the playground.

The establishment will definitely be a Burger King, according to Restaurants Brands Iberia, the Spanish company that owns this Burger King. The company also told The Portugal News that the burger restaurant will open this year.

The new Burger King will create 25 jobs (which may increase over the summer) and might attract more young people to the area. “It's a kind of space that young people usually choose to go in to. At the moment, many people from Lagoa have to leave the municipality to consume this type of food and now they will have this offer within the municipality, which is much better for all of us”, the Mayor of Lagoa, Luís Encarnação told The Portugal News.

Additionally, “it is an anchor investment that can be beneficial for small and large companies in the county. It will not directly compete with what is being done in our local businesses. In fact, people who pass along the N125 road will stop to eat and perhaps visit other spaces in the city, which can boost the county’s economy”, he added.

Business owners’ views

The Portugal News sought to find out what small restaurant owners think of the opening of this new fast food restaurant in Lagoa.

Mónica Teodoro, owner of Dona Ana Restaurante, agrees with the mayor about the point that the new Burger King will attract more young people to the municipality. “People who live in Lagoa and consume this kind of food consume it anyway, but in other municipalities. With the new restaurant they will start spending money in Lagoa”, she said.

In addition, she believes that she won’t lose her clients. “We should think positive. Everyone needs to earn money and that fast food restaurant will develop the area and attract more people,” she added.

On the other hand, Marcia Sousa, co-owner of Lagoa Sol Cafe, didn't seem happy with the idea of having a Burger King on her doorstep. “This is a big fast food chain, we can't compete with them,” she said.

In her establishment, she works mainly with customers who work or live nearby, but also with children from the school, which is just a few metres away. In Marcia's opinion, adults will keep going there because they tend to prefer a healthier meal, such as soup. However, she is worried that the kids will start to opt for the burger restaurant and won't stop at her snack-bar.

Construction under way at Lagoa's first chain fast food joint.

Fast Food near schools

The new Burger King will be located just 800 metres from the Jacinto Correia 2nd and 3rd Cycle School. However, the mayor guaranteed that all legal requirements are being met.

In addition, Emília Vicente, the principle of the Espamol Group of Schools, which includes Jacinto Correia, said that “it doesn't make sense to forbid children to eat this type of food if they go with their parents to these restaurants after school hours,” she said.

From her point of view, it's not about banning, but about educating, giving them the tools to make good decisions. In this sense, the school has been doing a great effort to reinforce nutritional education among students. However, this is not enough. Parents also need to help in this process.

“At school we play our role. We develop several food education programmes, but if we don't have support from families on these topics, it's not worth it”, she said.

The first, but not the last

This is the first fast food restaurant in the entire county. “There was already a smaller one, but in an unauthorised space and that ended up closing, - we weren't in the chamber yet - but with this dimension and properly allowed, this will be the first one”, said the mayor.

However, it won't be the last. According to Luís Encarnação, this was the first request with the new Municipal Master Plan (PDM) in effect. “A previous request was made, which was not allowed due to the limitation of the previous PDM, but now the new PDM allows us to go further”, he explained, adding that there are new projects in pipeline for other areas of the municipality, but without giving details.