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Unhappy meal


The aesthetically minded were hoping a certain fast-food franchise would give them a break every day and put its golden arches somewhere other than Detroit’s midtown, across from CPOP Gallery and Majestic Theatre. Forget about it. Come August, after taking in a concert at Orchestra Hall, urban dwellers can head north a couple blocks for a Big Mac and ersatz shake. Mmmmm.

Sure, there are already plenty of great restaurants (can you say Union Street?) in one of the few areas of the city where nightlife abounds. But not one of them offers special sauce and a drive-through. You dig? If not, you are in good company. Sue Mosey is not keen on McDonald’s conglomerating the hipster hotspot. Mosey is the president of the University Cultural Center Association, a nonprofit made up of cultural institutions such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and private business owners. She says that a fast-food restaurant, particularly one with a drive-through, doesn’t fit in with the urbane setting. Mosey and a slew of community folks opposed the project two years ago when McDonald’s went before the City of Detroit Board of Zoning Appeals seeking approval for its site plan. The board denied the request, stating that a drive-through on Woodward would create traffic problems. Ronald & Co. then took its case to Wayne County Circuit Court, where Judge Jeanne Stempien ruled in McDonald’s favor last year.

Undeterred, Mosey is trying — without much success — to meet with company officials. She hopes they’ll at least alter the current plan.

“We don’t want it in a free-standing style with parking in front,” says Mosey. She also would like to see the drive-through entrance on Willis Street, not Woodward, as is now planned.

Jeff Witbrodet, McDonald’s real estate manager, says it is not possible to change the plan since it has already been approved. He says changing the project would jeopardize it. But Witbrodet assures that the design will mesh with the booming area.

“It was designed to fit in the downtown atmosphere,” he says.

News Hits, ever the optimist, encourages Mosey and crew to look on the bright side: At least it’s not a White Castle.

Ann Mullen is a Metro Times staff writer. Send comments to

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