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McDonald’s New Chicago HQ Is Targeted by Protestors

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Some West Loopers say the chain will make them a target for traffic and crowds now

Fight for $15 protesters in the West Loop.
Fight for $15/Facebook
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Last week, West Loop residents shared worries that McDonald’s new headquarters would lead to more traffic and unwanted attention to their neighborhood. Cue to the scene this morning when protestors marched toward the not-yet-open office building to show their support for an increased minimum wage. While McDonald’s executives haven’t yet moved to the new building, the company did debut a fancy ground-floor restaurant just a month ago at 110 N. Carpenter Street.

Similar protests have taken place downtown in years past, knowing McDonald’s is America’s best-known fast-food chain with deep Chicago roots. But protesters needed a new location. The Rock ‘N’ Roll McDonald’s — arguably the city’s highest-profile Golden Arches — has been demolished. The parcel is more or less an empty parcel right now as workers will eventually build a futuristic new McDonald’s in River North. But now, as the company’s headquarters has moved back into the city from the suburbs, the company has a new focal point.

Once more, the protests were organized by The Fight for $15, the coalition of fast-food workers supporting a $15 per hour minimum wage and improved employee benefits. Video posted to the group’s Facebook page show protestors blocking the restaurant’s entrance and chanting “McDonald’s, McDonald’s, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side!”

Hey McDonald's you can't hide, we can see your greedy side

Breaking: McDonald’s workers storming the corporate headquarters in Chicago. McDonald's makes billions and pays us pennies; NO MORE. We demand $15 and union rights. No exceptions. #FightFor15

Posted by Fight for $15 on Monday, May 21, 2018

McDonald’s nine-story building sits on the former Harpo Studios site where Oprah Winfrey recorded her talkshow. It’s also on Randolph Street, a stretch of road the includes some of Chicago’s trendiest restaurants including Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat and Rick Bayless’s Leña Brava. A McDonald’s spokesperson didn’t immediately return a message for comment.

UPDATE: A McDonald’s spokeswoman emailed the following statement:

“Our commitment to the communities we serve includes providing opportunities for restaurant employees to succeed at McDonald’s and beyond with world-class training and education programs to help them build the skills needed for today’s workforce. Recently we announced we are tripling tuition assistance for restaurant employees by allocating $150 million over five years to our Archways to Opportunity education program which provides eligible U.S. employees an opportunity receive upfront college tuition assistance, earn a high school diploma, and access free education advising services and learn English as a second language. We also lowered eligibility requirements, making the program more accessible. These enhancements underscore McDonald’s and its independent franchisees’ commitment to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees so they may pursue their education and career ambitions.”