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Gang of loitering seniors poses problems for McDonald's

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 A New York McDonald's is the site of an ongoing battle between management, senior citizens who loiter, police and community activists. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)How long is too long to hang out in a fast food restaurant after finishing your meal?

This is the subject of an ongoing debate at a New York McDonald's, where a group of elderly Korean gentlemen are said to loiter from morning until night - sometimes after buying little more than one order of french fries.

The New York Times reports that the men - a revolving group of senior citizens, some with canes and wheelchairs - started taking up roost at the McDonald's location in Queens approximately five years ago.

They congregate on benches inside the restaurant around 5 a.m. and stay there well into the evening, splitting a small bag of french fries between them while socializing and reading newspapers.

Management recently posted a sign indicating that customers have 20 minutes to finish their food, but this hasn't deterred the group, nor have the police, who've been called to the restaurant four times since November.

Elderly patrons tell the Times that officers now stop in as frequently as three times per day to ask them to clear out, but that they simply walk around the block and come back in again.

"It's a McDonald's, not a senior centre," said the restaurant's frustrated general manager Martha Anderson. She explains that the seniors are impacting business by driving potential customers away and taking up so many tables that other diners sometimes ask for refunds after finding no place to sit.

Korean community leaders, however, say the seniors are being unfairly targeted, and are calling for a worldwide boycott of the restaurant for the month of February.

"We want to send out a message to New York City and citizens that we're to respect the elders, and we cannot mistreat our senior citizens," said a protester interviewed by CNBC outside of the restaurant. "They work to hard their whole lives for their country and their family."

McDonald's released a statement in response to the situation Thursday.

"While it is flattering that they would like to spend their days in the restaurant, the extended stays - regularly eight hours or more every day - have prevented other customers from enjoying the restaurant," said McDonald's franchisee Jack Bert. "I'm sure you can imagine any business would find this situation to be difficult, although I remain optimistic we will be able to work this out."

What are your thoughts on loitering in fast food restaurants? How long is an appropriate amount of time to stay?

Tags: food & drink, pov, U.S., World

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