The sheer scale of McDonald’s global operation—38,000 restaurants worldwide and counting—means travelers are likely to encounter the Golden Arches in some unexpected places. (Not the Roman baths, but don’t think McDonald’s didn’t try.) It’s as though McDonald’s executives cluster around a giant world map, sticking pins anywhere there’s a free patch left. Recently, their gaze has fallen on the quaint, cottage-speckled English county of Rutland, the country’s last remaining county without a McDonald’s.
The BBC reports McDonald’s has submitted a planning application to build a location with a drive-thru on the edges of the town of Oakham in Rutland county. For those of us outside the U.K., a brief scene-setter: Rutland’s center is a large artificial lake known as Rutland Water (creative, there); its local symbol is the horseshoe; and according to Wikipedia, its “small size has led to a number of humorous references such as Rutland Weekend Television, a television comedy sketch series hosted by Eric Idle.” Small, picturesque, dotted by markets and inns—all very charming overall.
That’s why locals worry the proposed McDonald’s—which is near a gas station along a highway, not downtown—would alter its landscape for the worse. Several residents complained to the BBC about the proposal, saying it will change the town’s character and negate some of its small-town charm. But others embrace the Golden Arches, with one local caller telling talkRADIO: “It’s making the town vibrant again, a town that was dying. I welcome it with open arms.”
If the Rutland location doesn’t work out, McDonald’s could potentially set its eyes on other UK areas without any locations yet. Stonehenge looks like it’s got plenty of nearby real estate open.