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The Plateau Is Now a McDonald’s-Free Zone

The borough’s only McDo has vanished from Mont-Royal Avenue

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Plateau-dwellers in search of Big Macs and Quarter Pounders will have to go further afield, or go elsewhere, as the borough’s only remaining McDonald’s has closed down.

Culture site Nightlife noticed that the McDonald’s on Mont-Royal at the corner of Papineau closed its doors in recent days, with its windows covered in brown paper and sign taken down.

Interestingly, it’s not the only late-night junk food option to vanish from that part of the neighbourhood — a Belle Province just a block away also shuttered in recent months (although a 24-hour A&W on Mont-Royal and Marquette is still alive and well).

The closure of a ubiquitous chain restaurant would not normally be newsworthy, but given it was the last one in that populous neighbourhood, it does pose the question: are chains giving up on the neighbourhood?

That’s a tough call — while this is just one closure, it’s worth noting that Starbucks pulled back its presence in the last year too — around when the coffee giant shuttered its location at the Jean-Talon Market, it also killed off other locations around the inner north, including a prominent one on St-Denis and Rachel, while Mile End’s only Subway also disappeared.

Of course, as a Projet Montréal-loving borough often described in fluffy terms like “artsy” and “bohemian” in travel guides, a lack of interest in mass-produced chain fast food would seem to fit with the Plateau’s general identity. Other chains that are seemingly everywhere, like Tim Hortons, have mostly kept away (there’s just two; one if you don’t count a Parc Avenue location catering almost entirely to McGill students).

Yet it also seems like an odd trend — at a time when rent prices have pushed out independent businesses like Le Cagibi in Mile End, while allowing for a glossy Lululemon to set up shop down the street, it seems like the neighbourhood would be ripe for an invasion of chain stores or restaurants — with corporate backing, they’re more likely to be able to pay the rent.

That means there’s another possible interpretation here: it’s not that chains are fleeing the Plateau, but instead are concentrating on a few select strips — the south ends of Parc and St-Laurent (catering to McGill students and the nightlife crowd, respectfully), and around the bar- and retail-heavy section of Mont-Royal near its metro station.

Or, there’s one much more depressing take on this closure: maybe that McDonald’s was just terrible, and this is a one-off, and we can all return to watching in horror as bland corporate eateries take over the cityscape in slow-motion.

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