For all the love that they inspire from a rabid fanbase, McDonald’s are rarely touted as the most salubrious of establishments. Even the most ardent fan would struggle to argue that a Friday night spent drunkenly tussling on a sticky, syrupy floor with an angry stranger over the last box of lukewarm nuggets constitutes an enjoyable dining experience. But if there’s one thing we know about the powerful food franchises of this world, it’s that they are full of surprises.
While many Maccies maybe the last place you’d head to enjoy a classy evening out, there is one that delivers an utterly remarkable hamburger experience. Located in the small town of Freeport, Maine, this McDonald’s is not straddled by a shopping centre or squashed into a train station. Instead, it occupies an entire 19th century colonial mansion.
Constructed in 1850 by Freeport Merchant William Gore, the historic building is also known as Gore House. Designed in the typical Victorian style of the day, the mansion features a double-fronted facade, manicured gardens and a formal dining room. There are few fast food restaurants that look anything like it.
Given the nature of the building and the rest of Freeport’s distinctive aesthetic, launching a mansioned McDonald’s was always going to be a contentious issue. The company successfully acquired Gore House in 1984 after a lengthy negotiation with local leaders. Eventually, a deal was agreed, on the proviso that McDonald’s would not be allowed to erect its infamous Golden Arches.
However, residents were still less than impressed with the prospect of a famous local landmark becoming a Big Mac repository. In order to reassure grumpy locals, then-Manager of Media Relations, Stephen Leroy, stated that the branch would be treated in an “extremely special way”. He went on to add:
“What we are doing there is something we probably have never done before in terms of design and the amount of time and effort involved. We are willing to spend the money to make it compatible with the area, the history, the community and the people who live there.”
The result is a restaurant that differs substantially from the typical McDonald’s experience. In addition to the ornate furniture and unusually clean decor, the Gore House McDonald’s menu offers a host of unusual and distinctly un-Maccies-like options. Alongside Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, customers can pick up a lobster roll for $8.99.
While the entire town of Freeport maintains strict building laws to this day, this has not stopped McDonald’s from making a few essential structural adjustments. In addition to converting the kitchens to cope with the demands of a fast food franchise, the restaurant has also been upgraded with a newly-constructed drive through. Doubtless, this is the last thing that William Gore imagined when he first began construction on his new family home.
Given the ubiquity of the ever-popular junk food juggernaut, it’s unsurprising that McDonalds’ end up in some truly odd places. In fact, the Freeport franchise is not even the only Victorian-style branch in the country – both New Hyde Park in New York and Independence located in the state of Ohio can also boast their own swanky set of Golden Arches.
For any fan who’s always dreamed of McDonald’s worthy of the Michelin Guide, a trip to one of these top tier outlets has got to be added to the bucket list.