The town of Notts where fast food giants McDonald’s and KFC failed but cafes and cafes rule
No matter which branch of McDonald’s you visit, from Arnold to West Bridgford, they are always busy.
Across the UK, the fast food giant serves an average of around 3.5million customers every day, making it hard to imagine any of its burger restaurants closing due to lack of footfall. .
But that’s what happened in downtown Beeston.
McDonald’s opened on the High Road in 1987 but closed 30 years later because there were simply not enough people.
Although there were plenty of customers wanting a Big Mac at lunchtime it was much quieter at other times and when a McDonald’s drive-thru opened at Chilwell Retail Park it still most affected trade.
The empty unit became a furniture store for the charity Betel UK and in 2017 was transformed into a café-bar, the Bendigo Lounge.
McDonald’s wasn’t the only fast food restaurant to disappear from the High Road. KFC was also on the city’s main shopping street, but it closed in 1993 after weekly turnover fell well short of expectations.
Today, the city offers a diverse mix of thriving cafes, cafes, takeaways and restaurants – both chains and local businesses, from Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero to Pudding Pantry, Greenhood Coffee House , Cartwheel, Birds and Circle Eatery.
Even though it’s been 15 years since McDonald’s closed, the topic remains a hotbed of debate between those who miss it – and those who don’t – when Nottinghamshire Live asked locals for their views.
Kylie Goodband said: “I remember McDonald’s on the High Road when I was growing up. I used to meet my friends there on a Saturday before I went shopping as a teenager. not many places to go now for teenagers.The cinema has just been built but there are only charity shops and little cafes in Beeston.
Steve Clarke thought it boosted the local economy. “It improved the town center commercially as many families visited Beeston rather than Nottingham or Derby for shopping and a ‘treat’ lunch.”
Beeston has Ohannes, a gourmet burger restaurant, but Shania Armstrong said: “It would be nice to have a McDonald’s, especially now that they also have alternatives for vegans. Some people can’t afford Ohannes, so having again an economical fast food would be great.”
It brings back fond memories for Andrew Hall, whose disabled son Joshua attended before his death.
He said: “It encouraged Josh to be independent in his wheelchair and drive to Beeston with his friends.
“It would be nice to have a Maccies again in Beeston, but really they need somewhere with space to park and drive through to make economic sense in a town the size of Beeston.”
Tahir Ahmed said it was part of his weekend routine as a boy. “We loved going to Beeston, going to the pet store and then going to McDonald’s, those are great memories. Even though it’s fast food and not the healthiest option, it’s still nice to have at your door. Going too often is how it can get unhealthy fast but everything in moderation.”
Geoff Eaton added: “There are plenty of adult outlets in Beeston, but not many for teenagers or young people with relatively cheap food and drink. I’ve never felt any antagonism towards McDonald’s and such. I like to use them once in a while. and I would certainly like a McDonald’s or KFC on the high street if there was enough demand to sustain them – and I think there would be, especially with deliveries.
However, not everyone cares to head to the High Road for a cheeseburger and chicken nuggets and for them, independent businesses win hands down.
Bee Warren said: “Good riddance to multinational junk food. Beeston is full of great, varied, independent food outlets that keep the town interesting and appealing (not another dreary old Clonetown) and keep the local economy going.”
Al Draper added: “Independent, well-run food and drink outlets offering healthy menus using responsible and traceable suppliers is not too much to ask of the High Street in 2022 is it not?”
Steve Beech commented: “In an age of globalization, I would say Beeston is thriving and has fewer large chain outlets than it did a decade ago.”
Anthony Quinn, who runs the Pudding Pantry in High Road, believes it is part of a nationwide trend, which has also seen chains such as Pizza Hut and Jamie’s Italian Close close.
“I think people are bored with what they serve. People want to spend their money and get something different. I think chains will always have commerce, but I think people will want to go somewhere where they will have a different experience.
“If you look at suburbs like Attenborough, Toton and Wollaton, it’s quite a wealthy area around Beeston and I think people like to spend their money locally.”
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