The Real Reason Fast-Food Restaurants Are Banned In Bermuda

Travel to Bermuda and you might notice something odd. As you drive around the island, you won't spot any golden arches or red-haired little girls hawking burgers, or even a mustachioed king with his crown and Whoppers. Fast-food restaurants are banned in Bermuda and have been for decades. Legislation passed in 1977 aimed to preserve Bermuda's "Old World image," retaining the vibe and atmosphere that contributes to the island's tourism industry (via The Spokesman-Review). The legislation was revised years later just in time to derail plans for McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell restaurants, and lawmakers at the time called the decision "righting a wrong."

However, just because there has not been a new fast-food restaurant on Bermuda soil since the legislation passed decades ago, that doesn't mean there has never been one on the island. McDonald's had previously established a location in Bermuda via a loophole in the law.

The McDonald's-Bermuda controversy

McDonald's made its way to Bermuda in 1985, constructing a location on a U.S. military base (via Bermuda4U). As the McDonald's was technically on U.S. soil, it could squeeze past the island's strict laws against foreign franchises. However, despite the fast-food chain being intended for military personnel (or at least that was the claim), it attracted quite a few Bermuda residents, with reports of more than 10% of the local population making its way to the restaurant in a single day. Still, when the U.S. military base closed in 1995, Bermuda lawmakers decided they'd had enough of the foreign entity and forced it to close.

Today, only a single fast-food restaurant exists in Bermuda. A Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant that opened in the 1970s was permitted to remain open after the harsher legislation on foreign franchises was passed. Otherwise, the Bermuda government considers prohibited establishments as any "restaurant which is operated in any matter, whether through distinctive name, design, uniforms, packaging, decoration, or otherwise, which reasonably suggests a relationship with any restaurant or group of restaurants operating outside Bermuda."