…even the McDonald’s has a black shopfront

THE old cliche about Hampstead is that it is such a rarified, picturesque place that even the local McDonald’s has a chic black storefront. No garish red and yellow here.

The story behind the cliche is that Maccy-Ds actually spent years (1980 to 1992) trying to open in the village but were repelled by a spirited ‘Burger Off’ campaign by local campaigners – some well known locals too, Melvyn Bragg, Michael Foot, the late Peggy Jay and many more famous names. Wrangle, wrangle, legal wrangle, appeal – and McDonald’s eventually got their way and opened in Hampstead High Street. Folklore has it that the unofficial compromise was that it would be painted black.

So, will the old campaign team – those that are still alive – be back on the case now McDonald’s have asked Camden Council this week for permission to ditch the black? They now want the branch to be green. It still won’t be the garish red and yellow that characterised the chain’s other restaurants when they first landed in the United Kingdom – but the old line ‘Hampstead… even the McDonald’s has a black shopfront’ might not quite work in the future.

Application papers on Camden Council’s planning website show the plan for paint the shade of khaki (see above). McDonald’s, maybe mindful of what has happened in the past, say: “Whilst we recognise that the whole of the building is indeed listed, these fittings are not expected to have any impact on the historic value. The existing internal McDonald’s fixtures and fittings will be carefully stripped out, and where necessary made good. Works to the external facia of the building are noted on the application drawings and are only on the shop front and not the historic fabric of the building, but are subject to a separate application being considered by the council. Overall we have carefully considered the amount and location of the proposed work in relation to the historic elements within the building. In the light of this, there is no adverse impact on the building.”

Got it.

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