Friday, October 19, 2012

McDonald's Rideau/George Street: An Improvement over Yesteryear

Way back in my University of Ottawa days I used to venture down to downtown Ottawa on Rideau Street.  Rideau Street from Sussex pass the Rideau Centre and The Bay store is an interesting place in Ottawa.  Just down the street from Parliament Hill of Canada, this section of Rideau Street has issues with homelessness and drugs while also doubling as a major OC Transpo and STO bus transfer point for thousands of commuters a day. 

Also back in those days, I used to visit the McDonald's (60 George Street, Ottawa) on a regular basis for the usual fast food. This McDonald's location has an entrance off George Street and the Byward Market as well as an entrance off of Rideau Street. Usually there would be at least  two large male employees who used to work the counter. These two psuedo enforcers were required as it would be an anomaly if at least one drunk and/or homeless person were not ejected onto the sidwalk of Rideau Street.  Sometimes even Ottawa Police would show up to assist with the honours.  There was always something going on at the McDonald's. 

Today I returned to the McDonald's.  I visited the Rideau Street entrance to find a homeless man holding the door open looking for any change or leftover french fries customers may have.  Not much had apparently changed from my university days.  I continued past on the Rideau Street sidewalk and did a side glance through the front windows.  Everything had been upgraded since my last visit in 2002.  The new decor looked cleaner and brighter than way back in the day. 

I circled around the building to the George Street entrance.  The old entrance is the same, despite the main address of the McDonald's being George Street.  Customers are forced to walk down a long tiled hallway to get to the counter and place an order.  On this particular visit, the employees had left the door open to the garbage room open.  At least the trash room didn't smell, that was because a McDonald's employee had dutifully sprayed air freshener that remarkably smelled like a freshly cleaned and mopped McDonald's bathroom in ambiance.

I approached the counter, which had been reangled and refurbished since I was last there, where I was politely welcomed by the cashier and inquired with about my order.

The Order: 1 Big Mac Meal with medium fries and medium Coke. 

Just after receiving my change back, I received my order from the manager acting as a runner.  Talk about service!

I ventured over to the drink and condiment station to fill up my medium cup and gather my ketchup, napkins and other accouterments and viewed for a seat. 

The front was full so I found a spot on the high swivel chairs with a flat counter on the wall opposite the order counter. 

The Big Mac was the usual medium temperature, double patty with secret sauce.  The fries were medium temperature (i.e. not hot and fresh).

The ambiance though had changed.  More customers seemed to be utilizing the free wifi internet and  chowing down on McDonald's fare.   The customers were an interesting mix of local office workers as well as the sketchy characters Rideau Street is known for.  

Overall, this McDonald's has cleaned up it's appearance on the inside from yesteryear.  They serve the basic McDonald's fare in high volumes due to it's downtown locale.  The clientele has somewhat improved as more local officeworkers seem to be eating there, but the downtown sketchy clientele still resides.  It's an interesting McDonald's location to eat the usual McDonald's food, but the people around you but also has some interesting customers.

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