London

McDonald's closure leaves another vacancy in downtown London

The McDonald's in Market Tower at the corner of Richmond and Dundas streets will close permanently by Aug. 1.

Closure of fast food chain not a sign of downtown decline, says Downtown London CEO and manager

McDonald's has been a mainstay in downtown London for many years, but the location at Richmond and Dundas streets will be closing its doors at the end of the month. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Downtown London is losing yet another high-profile business, as the McDonald's in Market Tower gets ready to shut its doors at the end of the month.

The fast-food restaurant on the corner of Dundas and Richmond streets will be permanently closed as of Aug. 1.

The news has come as a shock to many people who frequent the location for a cheap meal or a coffee.

The corporation hasn't given a reason for the closure, but the downtown has undergone a number of changes in recent months — including major construction on Dundas Street.

McDonald's Canada declined to comment directly on the closure, choosing instead to share a statement from the local owner and operator, John Simioni.

Simioni said: "I've enjoyed operating this restaurant for four years, so I appreciate the importance this restaurant serves in our community…We met with each of my employees to offer them the opportunity to continue working in nearby restaurants in London."

'Things don't stay forever'

Janette MacDonald, the manager and CEO of Downtown London, said she's saddened to learn that another corporate icon is leaving the city's core — but she doesn't think the loss is a sign of decline.

"Things don't stay forever. Things change and it changes the complexion of the street," MacDonald said, noting that while some businesses are leaving downtown, other new businesses are also setting up shop. 

The closure of McDonald's comes a little over a year after drugstore Rexall left the building across the street. It also leaves Market Tower, a five-story retail building, almost entirely empty.

Both properties are owned by Shmuel Farhi, the president of Farhi Holdings Corporation. Farhi did not respond to CBC's request for comment.

Kitty corner from Market Tower is another vacant storefront, that once was occupied by Rexall. Both properties are owned by Farhi Holdings Corporation. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

While the future of Market Tower is unclear, MacDonald said her vision for the empty space includes a grocery store.

"Anything that's an active use that people would go to a lot. So clothing stores, restaurants, fast food spots," she said. "Something that people would want to go to on a very regular basis."

She added that the city's work to turn Dundas into a flex street, shared by pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, will be a critical component to encouraging growth.

"You'll see a shift in narrative, you'll see a shift in opinion and you'll see a shift in the businesses that move in," said MacDonald.

"Just take a look at the cranes in the sky with the residential development. Our developers are very smart people and they wouldn't be investing, you know, upwards of $40 million in a downtown that was sinking," she said. 

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