Cinnabon’s Tripoli Conundrum

It may have been pure coincidence, but when a Cinnabon opened up in post-Gaddafi Libya, many residents were skeptical about the timing of the American franchise’s arrival. Focus Brands, which owns the rights to Cinnabon, released a statement that said the restaurant had been in the works before the revolution, which halted progress on opening the franchise until now. So far, it has operated without incident.

Cinnabon’s namesake pastries may seem a wry option for Tripoli’s war weary residents, but it’s nonetheless a good sign that something can open up less than a year after the death of Gaddafi and receive international attention.

The ideal situation is that this is just a start to Libya’s reintroduction to the global marketplace. Foreign stores may open up in Libya, but Libyan merchandise and franchises for once have the option of opening to in the rest of the world.

It doesn’t hurt that the newly opened Cinnabon gives Libyans a chance to see the competition and let them choose for themselves about what types of businesses to run, without running up against the cronyism and corruption of the Gaddafi regime.

But in the end, the fate of the lone Libyan Cinnabon rests in the hands of Tripoli’s residents—possibly leaving said hands covered in cinnamon and sugar. The only other option is, well, to have an unpopular restaurant close down on its own and try again somewhere else. Until then, let’s let the people of Libya speak for themselves.