Update: What’s Happening in East Row?

by The Editor

In late October we asked what was happening in the Saraton Bulding at the top of City Walk in the bus interchange. Fences had been erected, workers were feverishly nailing various objects together, and the site gave every indication a highly organised fit-out taking place. So, what the Hell was it?

For those who haven’t ventured into the city of late, the project is finished and open for business. The rumours in late 2011 proved correct: this prime position has been snapped up by McDonalds. We already have a counterfront Macca’s outlet in the bottom of the Canberra Centre, and there is a full restaurant only two blocks away in James Court Apartments. Not even in Manhattan are Macca’s franchises located so closely together. What is it about Canberra that sees the driving need for another burger joint bang in the middle of the transport hub (especially one promoting so heavily it’s McCafe)? Who, consciously and without a sense of shame, visits the Golden Arches to get a coffee anyway? We’d only dare venture in if every other barista in Canberra was dead and we could slink away under the cover of darkness with the offending liquid disguised by a KeepCup.

Sure, the McCafe story originated in Australia’s own coffee capital of Melbourne before going on to become a part of the company’s global strategy, but the arrival of a site specific venue (as opposed to a McCafe in a small nook of apparent civility in the corner of a burger shop offering sanctuary from high-school students trying to scam burgers out of their friends behind the counter) is a bridge too far. Perhaps it would be made more bearable if McDonald’s Australian arm took a leaf out of the book of their French colleagues.

Yep, the French are at it again, proving this time they can even do ‘bland’ better than anyone else. Patrick Norguet has been commisioned to redesign the interior of Franco-McFlurry venues to bring the restaurant back to its roots as a place for families, as opposed to the teen hangout it has steadily become. The results, below, are rather striking.

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Images courtesy of ArchDaily.com / Patrick Norguet

Quite lovely, isn’t it? We could spend hours in there eating other people’s gherkins. Unfortunately for us Canberrans, we are stuck for now with this rather inelegant shrine to burnt coffee grounds:

This really is the most visually offensive thing we’ve seen in a while and, given Canberra landmarks that have previosuly attracted our ire, that’s really saying something.


Mind you, the Big ‘M’ wasn’t looking so good yesterday. Here’s hoping it’s some kind of omen.