When you think of your local McDonald’s restaurant, a building of ‘beauty’ isn’t exactly what comes to mind.
But for one ‘island’ in the US – several McDonald’s restaurants are actually converted mansions, with one in particular dubbed the ‘most beautiful’ in the US — if not the world.
Cruising through New Hyde Park on Long Island, and it’s hard not to see why this particular Macca’s stands out from the rest.
Spanning over two storeys with a massive staircase near the entry, the grand structure is actually a 19th century converted mansion sitting alongside a string of shops and warehouses.
The grand building is an old farmhouse built in the late 1700s, before turning from a funeral home into a string of restaurants. But by the time 1985 rolled round, the then dilapidated building was snapped up by the golden arches and converted into what’s now dubbed the ‘most beautiful’ Macca’s outlet in the country.
But while the converted mansion now attracts Big Mac lovers from around the world, the two-storey white weatherboard building was nearly knocked down by the fast food chain who deemed it too difficult to restore.
After significant pushback from the Long Island community, McDonald’s eventually agreed a restoration rather than a knock down, and build out the insides of the mansions to house the restaurant. Essentially, the ultimate McMansion was born.
Once the multimillion-dollar restoration was complete, in 1991 the doors swung open and marked the world’s 12,000th McDonald’s and the only one in the US in a wholly restored building.
Speaking to Insider, a representative for McDonalds said when the building was taken over by the chain — it was a complete “disaster”.
“When we took over this building, it was a disaster, a real eyesore,” McDonald’s New York regional vice president at the time.
“There were pigeons all over. We had to gut the building, take it down to the rafters.”
While positioned in a busy part of New Hyde Park on Long Island, the building itself is like no other McDonalds I had stepped into before.
The interior felt almost chic — with the white ‘Hamptons” vibe slipping from the outside of the complex to the inside.
After walking in and grabbing your Big Mac meal which, mind you, tastes better Down Under than in the US, you can either park yourself on the ground level or venture up the cascading staircase to the second storey.
There’s nothing overly traditional (in terms of a typical McDonald’s restaurant) with the layout of this grand McDonalds.
Kathy Meyer, who has been visiting the Long Island site from its beginnings in 1991, said it’s a beautiful place to grab a burger and some fries and site surrounded by history.
“It’s beautiful inside where you can picture that a family did live here at one time,” Meyer told local media of the landmark restaurant.
“It’s a wonderful historical thing of New Hyde Park to preserve.”
The current owner and operator, Jack Bert, who purchased the McDonalds site in 2013 after the first owner retired, said “there is nothing traditional about how this store lays out”.
“Prior to 1991, it was a dilapidated house in a very much vacant lot …[today] it makes us very proud that we are maintaining the integrity of the building the way the founding fathers would have liked us to.”
You can get to this magnificent McDonalds from New York City, with the restaurant sitting just 30 minutes by car or just over an hour on public transport from downtown Manhatten.
Air New Zealand recently launched direct flights from Auckland to the Big Apple, making it easier for Australians to get to the east coast without having to bypass LAX.
However travellers will need to strap in, with the outbound journey averaging around 16 hours, and the return back to Auckland sitting at almost 18-hours. It makes this new flight, launched on September 17, one of the longest in the world and part of a growing number of ultra-long haul flights being rolled out around the globe.