When you think of historic landmarks and centuries-old architecture, do you picture the Golden Arches gleaming nearby? If not, then you agree with the city of Florence, Italy, which recently put the kibosh on McDonald’s plans for a new location near its famed Duomo cathedral. The fast food giant has filed a $20 million lawsuit in response.
Florence officials want to keep the area around the famed cathedral beautiful, and a McDonald’s location figure into that plan, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Back in January, the city issued new licensing rules aimed at stemming the tide of markets, eateries, and convenience stores popping up to serve tourists in the city. These rules tend to favor food establishments that offer Italian food, the WSJ notes, while other businesses have to fulfill a strict list of criteria before they can get approval to sell food in the historic center of Florence.
McDonald’s first sought permission to open its 10th restaurant in the city near the Duomo in the spring prompted protests and petitions against the idea. In response, McDonald’s came up with a plan to appease naysayers: waiters would serve customers at tables, and the company promised to source 80% of its ingredients locally.
Despite those efforts, city officials gave McDonald’s plans a failing grade, prompting the Golden Arches to hit back and file an €18-million ($19.8-million) lawsuit against the city, calling the official response, “a manifest injustice.”
“We completely agree that the cultural and artistic heritage and the Italian historical town centers have to be protected,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “But we cannot accept discriminatory regulations that damage the freedom of private initiative without helping anyone.”
The city isn’t budging over its new rules, however.
“It’s a not a blanket rejection of McDonald’s,” Giovanni Bettarini, Florence’s deputy head of tourism and economic development told the WSJ. “It’s just a rejection of that specific project.”
Unhappy Meal: McDonald’s Battles to Bring Golden Arches to Heart of Florence [The Wall Street Journal]
by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist