When the Olympic Games begin in London next month, the capital will play host to the fittest, fastest and strongest athletes in the world. But it will also be home to a rather different superlative – the biggest McDonald’s on the planet, right in the middle of the Olympic park.
So while the competitors stretch themselves to their very limits, hungry spectators will gorge on tens of thousands of burgers and portions of fries.
Bigger Mac: An exterior view of the world's largest McDonald's restaurant, their flagship outlet in the Olympic Park
Cavernous: Staff assemble a banner inside the world's largest McDonald's restaurant, which has seating for 1,500 customers
The vast two-storey restaurant will serve up to 1,200 customers an hour and sell £3million of fast food during the Games. At 3,000 sq ft the building, next to the Olympic Stadium, is bigger than the current largest McDonald’s, in Moscow.
The Russian restaurant will regain its title on September 9, however, when the London branch is bulldozed after the Paralympics closing ceremony. Yesterday McDonald’s gave the media a preview of its flagship store, which includes 20 till points and 1,500 seats. It is one of four branches in the park, including two open to the public, one for the athletes and officials in the Olympic Village and one at the press centre. Altogether they will serve 1.75million meals in 29 days, with Britons accounting for an estimated 85 per cent of customers.
The main restaurant will offer some of the best views across the Olympic Park from its first-floor balcony, which can seat 150 customers. It will be staffed by 500 of its top-performing employees from 85,000 in the UK, with 200 on a shift at any one time.
Wooden: The upper floor of the restaurant, which is mostly made of recycled timber
The fries the limit: Searing inside the expansive restaurant
The global sponsor has been linked to the Olympics since 1968, when the company airlifted hamburgers to US athletes in Grenoble, France, after it was reported they were missing McDonald’s food.
But the chain has been criticised for promoting the consumption of fast food at a time when people should be celebrating sports participation and healthy living. It is estimated one in ten meals eaten at Games venues will be from McDonald’s.
Last week, members of the London Assembly said firms which sold junk food should not be linked to the Olympic Games. Cadbury and Coca-Cola are also sponsors. Jenny Jones, a Green Party assembly member, said: ‘London won the right to host the 2012 Games with the promise to deliver a legacy of more active, healthier children across the world.
‘Yet the same International Olympic Committee that awarded the Games to London persists in maintaining sponsorship deals with the purveyors of high calorie junk that contributes to the threat of an obesity epidemic.
‘The advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar is already restricted on children’s television.
‘These Games will subvert those regulations by providing a glut of sponsored messages for high calorie food and drink that are at odds with the Olympian athletic ideal.’
Service with a mile: Assistant manager Rachel Lucien stands at the long checkouts
Design feat: The restauarnt was constructed so that it could be dismantled after the Games
The restaurant will be McDonald’s first sustainable outlet and 75 per cent of the building and fittings will be recycled or reused. It is part of London 2012’s bid to be ‘the greenest Games ever’.
While the restaurants serve fast food to the hungry public, McDonald’s executives will be enjoying some of the top events from their corporate seats. Yesterday, the firm admitted that global chief executive Jim Skinner and UK chief executive Jill McDonald, along with dozens of others, will enjoy corporate tickets to events such as the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics and swimming.
The restaurant will start trading on July 28, one day after the opening ceremony.It will not open for the ceremony itself, which many VIP guests and heads of state are expected to attend, for ‘security reasons’.
Expanse: Assistant manager Rachel Lucien walks past the checkouts
Mammoth McDonald's: An exterior view of the world's largest fast food restaurant