Free fries at a pop-up Macca's causes a stir

By Rebecca O'Sullivan

A McDonald's spokeswoman said there were no plans to launch a permanent store or another pop-up in the area. Photo / Getty Images
A McDonald's spokeswoman said there were no plans to launch a permanent store or another pop-up in the area. Photo / Getty Images

A McDonald's pop-up restaurant serving free fries is open for just three days in Sydney's inner west, but local residents are furious about the fast food invasion.

The world-first fries-only store, called Fries With That, will open from Friday until Sunday in Glebe, a suburb 10 minutes from the CBD. The pop-up is on a main road and sits between a florist and a trendy gourmet cafe.

Last year, McDonald's launched Loaded Fries (fries topped with gravy, or guacamole and salsa, or bacon and cheese) and Fries With That is a testing ground for potential new toppings, a McDonald's spokeswoman told news.com.au.

But some Glebe residents are protesting the arrival of McDonald's in their suburb.

They've formed a group called the "No McDonald's working group" and are concerned a pop-up means the global food chain is testing the local market.

Residents argue a permanent McDonald's restaurant will ruin the suburb's "village feel", put local businesses at risk and offer an unhealthy food option for children.

"You don't open a store to make a loss and you don't open a store to move away," organiser Amanda Tattersall, a Glebe resident and mother of two, told Fairfax.

"We would really encourage people to not use the store and provide metrics or money to a global company that is not welcome in Glebe," Ms Tattersall said.

More than 800 people have signed an online petition called "McDonald's - not in Glebe please", which calls on the community to boycott the pop-up. According to the 2011 Census, Glebe has a population of 11,123.

"Glebe has a wonderful cafe culture. Opening a McDonalds, under any name and in any form, will take business away from that village community," the petition says.

"We all know that most of your food is bad quality (no matter how much you pretend otherwise) - high in fat, high in sugar, made with poorly sourced ingredients. We know around the world that you pay your workers low wages too.

"Don't move into Glebe, and if you do we are committed to campaigning in the community to ensure you do as little business as is possible - until you leave for good."

A McDonald's spokeswoman said there were no plans to launch a permanent store or another pop-up in the area.

Glebe is an unlikely choice for a McDonald's restaurant. It's a suburb where you're more likely to see croc-wearing hippies than bogans smashing cheeseburgers. But for the record, there is a Domino's Pizza, a Subway and a Doughnut Time.

The cafe next door sells gourmet meals such as haloumi burgers and smashed avocado on toast, a far cry from the calorie-laden toppings to be sold at the pop-up (the new flavours are sour cream and sweet chilli sauce, caesar sauce, curry, pesto and parmesan, chipotle cheese sauce and peri-peri cheese sauce).

The closest McDonald's is 15 minutes away in Stanmore, off Parramatta Road, and 10 minutes away in Camperdown is The Corner McCafe, which sells healthy foods including kale salads, wraps and tofu, and doesn't even look like a Maccas from the outside.

The Glebe Point Road site was a great location with a space that allowed us to bring the celebration of our iconic fries to life.

So why choose Glebe?

"We wanted to host our celebration in an easily accessible area, so that as many people as possible could join us," the McDonald's spokeswoman said.

"The Glebe Point Road site was a great location with a space that allowed us to bring the celebration of our iconic fries to life."

Sydney's appetite for pop-ups is insatiable, and other fast food companies have used the marketing tactic to create buzz around their brands.

In January, cult American burger chain In-N-Out had Sydneysiders lining up outside the Dead Ringer bar in Surry Hills from 6am, six hours before the pop-up was supposed to open. The queue went for kilometres and the limited number of burgers sold out 30 minutes before the store even opened.

In April, Oporto opened its first 'pequino' (Portuguese for small) store on Devonshire Street in Surry Hills and served up free burgers on its launch day. That stunt went more smoothly than the In-N-Out pop-up and it took most people 30 minutes to line up and receive their burger.

In February, US burger chain Carl's Jr opened its first Australian store in Bateau Bay on the NSW central coast and offered free burgers for the first 50 people in line. One man even camped out overnight to ensure he was the first person in line.

- news.com.au

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