One Fillet O’Fish please

A FEW people reacted to yesterday’s post about McDonald’s in Hampstead and the future of its posh black shopfront with an unimpressed: well, I saw one on a McDonald’s in [insert picturesque European city here] which also had a toned down front so it’s not that amazing…

Memories have faded over time but be reassured that the opening of the Hampstead McDonald’s in June 1993 was big, big news. So much so that The Guardian even sent Ian Katz ā€“ now the paper’s deputy editor and head of news ā€“ to cover the first day of trading. He came back with a lengthy colour piece beginning with these legendary opening pars:

IT was fitting that Ben Williamson, the seven-year-old charged with blessing the reluctant marriage between McDonald’s and the intellectually wholesome enclave of Hampstead, north London, should have chosen a Fillet-o-Fish rather than the iconic Big Mac to mark the event. “It’s the only sort of burger I can eat,” he explained. “I’m a vegetarian.”

In years to come June 7, 1993, will take its place among other seminal dates in the British history of McDonald’s, like the 1974 opening of the first restaurant in Woolwich, south London, and the unveiling of the Midlands regional training centre in Sutton Coldfield in 1987.

For on that date, the legend already has it, the great steamroller of fast food culture finally overcame the pretensions, prejudices and plain bloody-mindedness of a chattering stronghold which had kept it at bay for 12 years.

Mr Williamson, where are you? I want to interview you about that famous Fillet O’ Fish.

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