Plans for McDonald’s to open a 24-hour restaurant in the heart of Marrickville have caused a wave of indignation from locals intent on keeping the fast-food giant out of the rapidly gentrifying suburb.
The company has lodged a pre-development application for a new store on Marrickville Road, near the Bob Hawke Beer and Leisure Centre and a slew of breweries and coffee roasteries that have transformed the area into a hipster mecca. The proposed McDonald’s would be in Marrickville’s burgeoning brewery and roastery precinct.
The two-storey restaurant would operate 24 hours daily, including a drive-through, 12 parking spaces and the golden arches sign.
But the prospect of McDonald’s setting up shop in Marrickville has divided residents, with dozens using social media and public forums to raise objections about rubbish, bad behaviour and dilution of the suburb’s character.
“Marrickville’s going down the drain,” said Sydenham resident Robynne Hayward. She said McDonald’s stores were “ugly”, would generate traffic and did not fit in with the bars, restaurants and live music venues the suburb is now known for. “I just think it’s undesirable.
The local businesses are small, mostly family-run or community-run businesses. They’re not a corporate chain.”
Another person wrote on the planning alert portal that McDonald’s was “crass, trashy, nauseating and, worst of all, boring”, and it would be “mortifying to bring down the culinary tone with gross, weird, spongey junk”.
However, the proposed McDonald’s has many supporters, including life-long Marrickville resident Michael Guirgis, who runs the Facebook community group We Love Marrickville.
The 47-year-old said a 24-hour restaurant would give young people somewhere to hang out late at night, which was much needed.
Guirgis also said there was growing tension in Marrickville between older locals – often migrants or their children – who wanted to hold on to the area’s working-class roots and a new wave of mainly Anglo-Australian hipsters.
“People are trying to change Marrickville into this really hip area,” he said. “I feel personally like they don’t want to come and adapt to the area; they want to come and change the area.”
“I think we can have it as a hip area as well as a multicultural area like it traditionally was … we can have a bit of everything.”
McDonald’s has had a chequered history in Sydney’s inner west. A Marrickville store a few blocks away closed about 15 years ago, becoming an Oporto.
In 1998, changing demographics and consumer preferences led a McDonald’s on King Street, Newtown, to close after about a decade. At the time, a Herald report ascribed the “unthinkable” closure to the whims of “the local mix of intellectuals, alternative lifestylers and everyday workers living together in a bustling precinct”.
In 1995, McDonald’s in Fairlight closed after Manly Council refused to let it open a drive-through. Two years later, a huge campaign garnered 5000 objections to a proposed McDonald’s in the Blue Mountains, leading to its withdrawal.
McDonald’s Australia has not yet lodged a formal development application for the Marrickville restaurant. In a statement, the chain said it was in the early stages of reviewing the site.
“Every McDonald’s restaurant is committed to supporting the community it operates in through job creation, economic investment and ongoing training and development opportunities,” it said. “We look forward to meeting with the council to discuss this further.”
McDonald’s has more than 300 restaurants in NSW, including Marrickville Metro shopping centre, St Peters and Stanmore