Yum! Brands Inc. denied reports Monday that its KFC brand authorized a new restaurant in Iran late last week.
Several news websites, citing Iranian media outlets, reported that a KFC outlet opened Friday in the city of Karaj, a suburb of Iran’s capital, Tehran. American companies are prohibited from doing business in the country, and Louisville, Ky.-based Yum said it has not had any restaurants in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Yum said it was not behind this latest venture, and that the company would stop any attempts to use its trademarks without authorization.
“We have no plans to open KFC restaurants in Iran,” said a spokesperson for Yum! Restaurants International, the corporate division with oversight of 14,450-plus restaurants in emerging foreign markets. “We have filed a legal action against the company and individuals claiming to have rights to open KFC restaurants in Iran.”
According to reports in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Iranian restaurateur Amir Hussein Ali-Zadeh opened his outlet and called it “Kentucky Fried Chicken — Iran,” serving not only fried chicken, but dozens of other menu items more suited to the palates of Iranians.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is under economic sanctions from the United States.
In its last earnings report, Yum said systemwide sales for its restaurants in the Middle East rose 12 percent in 2011.
Yum operates or franchises the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands, accounting for more than 37,000 restaurants in more than 110 countries.