Thank God It’s Back!

In late February my housemates and I were returning from somewhere when all gasped. “Oh my God it’s gone!” The existing McDonald’s franchise had been removed. Gone. As if an alien force had zapped it into electrons. I chatted up a manager at another McDonald’s store to find that the South Madison Street Store was being rebuilt and remodeled and it would be back in mid-May.

Reconstruction seemed ruthlessly efficient. Every time I turned around they were making major progress, rebuilding from the ground up. They opened this morning at 12:01 am. We pondered actually walking down there, but by that time I was dead to the world and so was everyone else.

I wouldn’t be too snobby if I were you. This is a low income neighborhood, and I’d much rather spend money on a salad at Mickey D’s than the alleged brown salad sold at the Kmart. McDonalds might have the only vegetables for miles when Kmart leaves in about a year.

The interior is the sophisticated dark super graphics the chains has been favoring of recent. The footprint of the store seems to be slightly different, a bit wider and longer. The kitchen is much larger, the McCafe hidden behind a wall to quiet the riot. (One of the reasons why I can’t stand Starbucks is the noise of all those expensive coffee making machines. McDonald’s is often worse.) The overall flow was good.

The usual suspects were there, the unemployed (moi), the elderly, blue-collar guys at lunch, kids having French-fry tantrums, coffee drinkers staring out at the traffic. I had my usual – a large drink, two McChicken sandwiches, a side salad with ranch. I treated myself with cookies.

For many people the local McDonald’s is a place to hook onto the Internet, since they offer free WIFI access. I’ve used it before, marching down Madison in the morning cold with my laptop to my office. You see people studying, or poring over reports for work, catching up on email. This McDonald’s is not just a place to eat, it’s an extension of living rooms and our lives.

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