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The usually-bustling McDonald's outlet at HUDA City Centre in Gurugram wore a deserted look with very few customers, filled with an air of uncertainty, under the shadow of the ongoing spat between the US fast food chain and its estranged partner Vikram Bakshi. Anxiety was writ large on the faces of waiters and other employees of the outlet -- reflective of the mood of 6,500 staffers in 169 restaurants of the chain in north and east India -- who are staring at an uncertain future. As the legal slugfest continues between McDonald's India and Bakshi, it is palpable that the chain -- which was once the first choice for any fast food lover -- is no longer what it used to be. "Pehle jaisi bheed bhi nahi hoti hai yahan (It is no longer as crowded as it used to be earlier)," said an employee. Requesting not to be identified, he said he was already looking out for a job elsewhere. The same sentiment was echoed by another employee, who said: "We are getting our salaries now, but we know that the last month before the outlets close, our salaries will not be paid." Their mood was in contrast to the pride that McDonald's employees had till the beginning of this decade -- for working with one of the largest multinational food chains in the world. Another employee at the chain's outlet in South Delhi felt Bakshi was fighting a losing battle. "We know that McDonald's doesn't want its outlets to be operated by our boss (Bakshi), so anyhow today or tomorrow the outlets will have to close down, no matter how much he fights for," said the employee, who asked not to be named. Gradually, the impact of termination of franchise agreement by McDonald's India with Connaught Plaza Restaurants Ltd (CPRL) -- a 50:50 joint venture between the Indian arm and Bakshi -- is beginning to be felt as some of the outlets are unable to offer complete range of food items on their menu. Desserts have not been available for the past few days, said an employee at a McDonald's outlet in North Delhi. The same was also the case at an outlet in Central Delhi. Bakshi, however, insisted that supply is not a problem as of now. "We are full of it.
However, it happens sometimes that some suppliers get late due to some reasons and that is in general course of business," he told PTI. Bakshi continues to operate the outlets even after the termination of licence, saying he wants either a "fair resolution or a fair valuation" pitching for buyout of his stake. While the fight has had an impact, an executive from the South Delhi outlet said competition from other players has also affected McDonald's in the capital. "Earlier, there was very less or no competition for McDonald's, but now similar chains like Burger King, Subway and KFC have emerged as bigger players with more choices," he said. According to news reports, the American food chain has been losing its growth momentum in India, had already lost the tag of the largest quick service restaurant chain to Domino's Pizza around 2012 and since then has not been able to gain back that position.