You can now eat airplane-inspired food at this restaurant in Malaysia
Few people go out of their way to eat airplane food. But, then again, most people would probably say they don't go out of their way to eat McDonald's, either. And in that comparison, the CEO of AirAsia sees an opportunity for airline meals.
Tony Fernandes announced last year that he wanted to turn the airline's inflight menu into a ground-based fast food franchise. In a LinkedIn post, he admitted that most people thought he was crazy when he revealed the plan, but that vision just became a reality.
Santan and T&CO, the brands that provide AirAsia's onboard refreshments, opened a new concept for a fast food restaurant with the airline's support on Monday. The location is in Kuala Lumpur's Mid Valley Megamall, about 40 miles from AirAsia's headquarters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL).
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"We have seen a significant appetite for our inflight menu offerings beyond our flights across the region and this is our answer to that demand," Catherine Go, Santan Restaurant and T&CO Cafe's general manager said in a statement. "We are very proud to extend what started out as an inflight menu into new markets and reiterate our support for local and Asean producers and suppliers."
The restaurant, Santan for short, will serve dishes popular with AirAsia's passengers, including Pak Nasser’s nasi lemak and Uncle Chin’s chicken rice, as well as other Southeast Asian-inspired meals. By the end of 2020, the airline plans to expand to five fully-owned restaurants and 100 franchise locations.
“Our dream is to have one in Times Square,” Fernandes said to Reuters, hinting at the his ambitions for the restaurant.
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The restaurant will use digital menu screens where customers will place orders. They'll include what AirAsia calls "artificial intelligence" that will "recommend popular dishes based on time, past ordering patterns as well as demographic taste." Orders can also be placed online or via the mobile app for Santan and T&CO.
The meals will cost 12 Malaysian ringgit, or about $3.