In an article from the New York Times, a management issue facing a Queens County McDonald’s franchise is detailed.  Situated in Flushing, the McDonald’s on Parsons and Northern Boulevards has been frequented by a group of elderly Korean men and women spending long hours in the establishment.   Sarah Maslin Nir and Jiah Ham report:

“The restaurant says the people who colonize the seats on a daily basis are quashing business, taking up tables for hours while splitting a small packet of French fries ($1.39); the group say they are customers and entitled to take their time. A lot of time.”

How does the store management respond?  After several months of this occurring over and over, management now calls the police when the group visits the location.

Quoted in the article is the store’s manager, Martha Anderson, stating “It’s a McDonald’s…not a senior center.”

Here are the facts:

  • These seniors were spending, as the article reports, over a dozen hours a day in the location (from 5 AM until after dark in the evening).
  • Other consumers in the restaurant have asked for refunds over the past few months as a result of a seating shortage.
  • Members of this group say that the 20 minute seating time limit that the restaurant imposes is impossible to attain; that one cannot even consume a coffee during that time.
  • There are multiple senior centers throughout the local area.
  • A business has the legal right to refuse service to anyone as long as it is not based upon race, religion, gender, national origin, and disability or the appearance of disability.

Public Relations Crisis:

This franchise’s owner faces a PR crisis.  The comment that the location’s manager submitted to the press comes off as callous and indifferent to the concerns of senior citizens; something that can have a major impact on the public perception of the store given the emphasis on senior concerns within the local community and the high level of collective decision making in the Asian communities throughout the area.  At the same time, the company has tangibly lost sales as a result of this group’s residence in the establishment and needs to address the issue.

What would you do as the owner of this McDonald’s franchise?

We encourage you to read through the entire article and absorb all of the issues at hand:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/nyregion/fighting-a-mcdonalds-for-the-right-to-sit-and-sit-and-sit.html

 

Author:  Alek Marfisi, Business Advisor, Baruch SBDC

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