Jan. 3, 2013 at 10:56 AM ET
In the aftermath of a revolution, sometimes a sticky cinnamon roll hits the spot.
American mall staple Cinnabon is winning legions of fans in an unlikely place: Tripoli.
The chain’s outpost in Libya’s capital city does three times as much business as the average store, Randy Mercer, the regional vice president of international operations for Cinnabon parent Focus Brands Inc., told the English-language Libya Herald.
The Tripoli Cinnabon, which opened in July, was the first American fast-food franchise to open in the city following the revolution. Mercer told the Herald that Cinnabon will open a second store next month across the street from the U.S. Embassy, and the company plans to begin scouting locations in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city and revolutionary epicenter. It has plans for 10 more stores in the next five years.
Atlanta-based Focus already has Cinnabon stores in several other Middle Eastern locations, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“Cultural acceptance is high because they love sweets,” Cinnabon president Kat Cole told the Wall Street Journal last month about Cinnabon’s Middle Eastern popularity. “If I showed you a picture of how they eat their cinnamon rolls, you would get a cavity just looking at it. They cover it in caramel and chocolate.”
Tripoli certainly seems to have a sweet tooth: The BBC reported on a boomlet of ice cream shops opening along many of the city’s main thoroughfares. One proprietor told the network his flavors were inspired by chocolate confections like Snickers bars and chocolate-hazelnut spread Nutella (the most popular flavor). Another turned the region’s signature dessert — the flaky nut-and-honey pastry called baklava — into an ice cream flavor. Can Cinnabon ice cream be far behind?