McDonald’s opened a pop up store in Glebe in today. It’s running over the weekend – 3 days, all up – as the fast food giant beta tests six new “loaded fries teaser toppings” (the current range is guacamole and salsa, bacon and cheese sauce, and gravy.)
But some residents in the CBD fringe suburb best known for its bookshops, art galleries, boutique wine bars, cafes, restaurants and weekend market are maintaining the rage against the corporate giant, protesting outside the Glebe Point Road store today.
The issue has Balkanised locals in the suburb that’s the birthplace of Australia’s first PM, Edmund Barton, and where the first Ronald McDonald House opened in the early 1980s (when the adjacent children’s hospital was sold to developers in the mid-1990s, it also relocated west to Westmead).
To tackle this deep-fried incursion, there’s a Facebook page in opposition, McDonald’s Not On Our Corner , there’s a protest planned for Sunday, and an online petition with more than 1000 signatures. There’s concern Macca’s will ruin the area’s village feel (the City of Sydney council likes to use the tagline “city of villages”).
Someone also smashed one of the windows in the heritage-listed building before the opening.
But the location of the Macca’s chip shop, at 166 Glebe Point Road, is very much the story of Sydney. It’s part of old Valhalla arthouse cinema, which closed a decade ago and was converted into small offices, with a bunch of cafes and restaurants underneath. Next door is a “gallery” selling colourful plant boxes you hang on your wall.
Just down the road, the historic former Bidura children’s court was sold to Chinese developers by the NSW government for $33 million. Around the corner, the former Harold Park trotting track is being turned into its own $1.1 billion mini-suburb of 1,250 apartments by developer Mirvac.
In adjacent Camperdown, McDonald’s opened The Corner 18 months ago, its upmarket restaurant, with lentil salads and pulled pork.
As flyers sticky-taped to power poles around Glebe show, the protestors are wary of even that concept, dubbing it “Cafe Killer”.
The Glebe pop-up is simply offering free fries – there’s a limit of one per day per person – to test which flavours go on the menu next, but even that market research has turned into a Montague v Capulet-esque feud between fans of the golden arches and foes.
— The Glebe Society (@glebesociety) May 26, 2016
— Brendan Mansell (@Bozz83) May 27, 2016
people of Glebe do you hate the Golden Arches more or less than inoculating kids
— M McKenzie-Murray (@feed_the_chooks) May 27, 2016
Writer and doctor Lisa Pryor channelled her inner-Pepys on this issue.
He who has grown tired of free fries has grown tired of life. #Glebe
— Lisa Pryor (@pryorlisa) May 27, 2016
If residents are looking for something to object too, they might like to start with the flavours McDonald’s are putting on the fries, although fans of 90s pub food will rejoice to see sour cream and sweet chilli revived. There’s also caesar (we assume that means pouring salad dressing over fries), curry, pesto and parmesan (seems tautological), chipotle cheese sauce and peri-peri cheese sauce.
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