Friday, June 24, 2016

McDonald's to Close Restaurant at Grady Hospital

Fast food chain booted from downtown hospital. 

McDonald's was not offered a renewal of its lease at Grady Hospital and will close permanently Friday night.  The restaurant, operated by a local franchisee, is located on the hospital's campus at 80 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive in downtown Atlanta, close to Georgia State University.  

No official reason was provided for the closure but a medical group may have played a part. 

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine [a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit of about 12,000 doctors] sponsored three billboards around the hospital this past spring urging Grady management not to renew the restaurant's lease which was up for renewal late this month.  

There are reportedly a total of 14 on-premise McDonald’s at U.S. hospitals including another in metro Atlanta at Northside Hospital on Johnson Ferry Road.  

A McDonald's source with whom I spoke indicated that the chain plans to look at opening elsewhere in the area to continue to serve its many customers in the community.  

The Physicians Committee has also called on hospitals to close on-premise locations of Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A. 

Earlier this year the group sponsored billboards near Chick-fil-A’s South Fulton headquarters asking consumers to “Eat More Chickpeas.”  The group wants Chick-fil-A removed from Piedmont Fayette Hospital in Fayetteville, Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville and University Hospital in Augusta. 

The Physicians Committee said Chick-fil-A operates in 19 U.S. hospitals.

Do you think it's wrong or inappropriate for hospitals to offer fast food options or should it be the consumers' decision as to where they eat?  Do you feel McDonald's and Chick-fil-A are equally unhealthy?  With what restaurant, business or other use would you like to see Grady repurpose the McDonald's?

Please share your thoughts below.  

Bonus Bit - "The Founder" a film starring Michael Keaton as McDonalds' "founder" that was shot in Atlanta this past year, is due to be released in theaters August 5th. 


Mark said...

I think your question is more difficult to answer than one might think at first glance. My late wife spent her last three months of life in Northside Hospital preparing for, attempting to recover from, and ultimately dying from complications of a bone marrow transplant. This was in 1999 so it has been a while and I've since remarried.

She had trouble with appetite, keeping food down when could bring herself to eat, and all manner of digestive maladies. There were three things she'd kill for and they were chocolate, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, especially when hot, and McDonald's french fries. Years before, her condition was chronic for a long time, her doctors had told me that any calories I could get into her that would not exit via the way they entered were good. Many a night, and sometimes day, she'd crave some fries and send me to the McDonald's to pick up some.

When she could, she ate the food prepared by the hospital cafeteria, but more often than not, she was unable. The fries, occasional doughnuts, and chess pies made by a friend are what sustained her. No doctor or nurse ever objected because they all knew she needed all the calories she could keep down.

I remember being stunned to discover a McDonald's in a hospital. My first thought was that it might undermine patients who did not care for the healthier, more nutritionally balanced fare provided by the hospital. I've no doubt it does undermine some who have someone they can send downstairs to fetch food for them rather than eat their cafeteria meals, or as supplement to those meals.

Because of my experiences, I'm inclined to tolerate the presence of fast food with its simple carbohydrate and fried fare. Is this the best point of view? I honestly don't know, but I'd rather have options, and it certainly made my wife's final days happier, and that made me happy since I was otherwise quite helpless to do anything to relieve her suffering or make her better.

Ham said...

I am absolutely no fan of McDonalds and their terrible customer service, but I still think this is ridiculous. Again, as someone who has traveled a good bit on business I will say they do have one thing going for them and that is consistency. Regardless of whether I was in upstate New York, rural Mississippi or Pennsylvania farm country the food at the local McDonalds was always the same. I guess my point is McDonalds provides consistent, affordable and somewhat edible food wherever you find them.

When my Father spent several multiple week stays at North Side we often ate at the McDonalds. Also, as he was recovering he really enjoyed an occasional milk shake which of course the Doctor approved. Families often don’t have the funds for a more upscale restaurant or want to take a chance on some no name place they’ve never heard of. If hospitals want to do something they should keep their own restaurants open longer hours and offer more affordable food, but they won’t do that because it might hurt their bottom line.

Coolio said...

The two issues are the affordability of food, and the restaurants who would offer that to their patrons. Usually, healthy and affordability don't go together, so it severely limits options.

Another issue is the area. It's not a welcoming environment. There is a HUGE difference between the outside of Northside Hospital and the outside of Grady, and I think that Grady definitely has an image problem that it is not working to resolve at all. Why can't they hire some people to constantly keep the outside clean and limit the loitering? Seems like it should be mostly Grady, but in partnership with whoever else is occupying the restaurant space to improve the image of the area as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what others have said that there is definitely something to be said for the idea of having something familiar and a form of comfort food in a hospital setting. there are many people, patients and especially family members, who would just as soon have a big mac and fries and forget about what terrible things might be going on upstairs for a few minutes than worry about making the healthy "right" choice. Now, I don't know what other options there are at Grady, McDonald's probably shouldn't be the only choice, but I don't see anything wrong with it being a choice.

Anonymous said...

I used to think it was odd to have McDonald's in a hospital but for the reasons people mentioned McDonald's serves a need. When my father-in-law was in the hospital with a short time to live all he wanted was a McDonald's milkshake. It made him and all of us happy.

Hospitals need to have food 24 hours a day because quite often there is no place to eat.

Anonymous said...

Interesting - 2 MacDonald's downtown have closed now - the one on Marietta by the 5 Points Station, which was one of the scariest places ever to enter - I always thought I'd witness a stabbing, and now the one at Grady. I really wonder if it has as much to do with the "ambiance" as it does with the food.

Patrick said...

This McDonalds had exactly the same ambiance as the one on Marietta street. It was rundown, filthy and surrounded by vagrants. No great loss.

Downtown also ran off another McDonalds, an interesting two-story restaurant on Peachtree Street where Hooters now operates. Why did that one leave? I don't know the official reasons but the times I ate there, it was (broken record!) filthy, rundown, and most of the inside seating was occupied by vagrants.

Downtown needs eating places open late. If you are at a hotel, or event, or the hospital, and you don't know where you are or where to find food, a familiar chain's big sign is a welcome thing. McDonald's knows better than most chains how to provide an experience that meets those expectations.

Why McDonald's has failed repeatedly to keep these stores open? I've eaten at McDonald's stores in many different states and cities and towns and quite honestly the ones in Atlanta are by far the worst of them all. Poorly run, angry staff, decrepit facilities, food issues, vagrant issues, etc. What makes Atlanta different from other cities' McDonald's? You have to look at who is running the local Atlanta stores. Most of them in Atlanta are operated by one or two large franchise holders with multiple stores. Chances are any McDonalds you see is owned by one of these big operators, one of whom also runs the entire local franchise association. If the same people run a lot of these stores that suffer from the same problems, the question has to be asked if these stores are being managed and run correctly? But of course if they also control the local franchise association, who is going to tell them to clean up their act and do better? Nobody. They manage themselves and they think this shabby way is just dandy.

There is no cure for this. Corporate McDonald's is never going to crack down on bad operators who are this big. It's too bad. They really make the company and brand look like crap. This really only becomes clear when you visit McDonalds somewhere else and see that these stores can be clean and neat and friendly and fast and all the things Atlanta McDonald's utterly fail at. It's enough to make somebody with no dogs in the fight, like me, angry at how Atlanta is made to endure this substandard offering thanks to a franchise empire that does not care one bit about these things.

Anonymous said...

I see no problem in having it as a choice. When I delivered my kids - all 3 of them - at Northside, McDonald's was really the only option for my husband to find food. Others have stated very good reasons for something like a McDonald's to be in or near a hospital.

enduring angel said...

There wasn't anything scarey about it, always long lines which shows it probably wasn't about a bottomline. I didn't realize that they had been closed since 2016, my how time flies! I tried to go to what I thought was the last remaining one dt but it had closed!

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