Thousands queue up for free burger on store’s last day as Prada prepares to take over premises in high-end galleria
Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, with its glittering Gucci and Louis Vuitton stores, has long attracted tourists eager to marvel at the posh heart of the world’s fashion capital.
For two decades, the historic, marble-floored, glass-vaulted arcade that takes tourists from the Duomo to La Scala has also been the location for a branch of the US chain McDonald’s.
The restaurant was a popular meeting point, reliably serving up its “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – all on a sesame seed bun,” as the famed Big Mac jingle goes.
But apparently not everyone was lovin’ it. On Tuesday, the restaurant closed its doors for the last time – to make way for a new Prada outlet.
“For stores like Prada or Gucci, to have a McDonald’s across from them probably didn’t play well into the prestige of the gallery,” said Italian luxury adviser Salvo Spagna. “It probably struck a wrong chord with the elegant, salon-of-Milan image.”
Reports suggested McDonald’s is planning to sue the City of Milan for €24m (£19.5m) in damages and lost revenue, though others speculated they had struck a deal. “McDonald’s doesn’t go away for nothing,” said Spagna.
City officials said the space, for which McDonald’s paid approximately €200,000 a year, was put up to public bid in 2011. The rent was set by tender, at €2,118,310 for the first five years. Pradabeat Apple and Gucci. McDonald’s officially contested the bid, claiming it discriminated against restaurants.
During the day, several thousand young people queued up outside the restaurant (one of Italy’s busiest McDonald’s locations) to mourn its closing and get one last burger, which the chain gave away free to “go away with a smile”.
Memories from fans scrolled across a panel outside: “I’ll miss you,” said one, recalling trips there as a child. On the McDonald’s Italia Facebook page, dozens of comments recalled shared laughs, first kisses and regret at the closure.
Ullswater’s famous Sharrow Bay hotel goes for a bargain price to James Caan of BBC 2′s fearsome business den
The latest chapter in the colourful story of the Sharrow Bay hotel on Ullswater in the Lake District involves a dragon: James Caan of the BBC 2 series Dragon’s Den whose influence on potential entrepreneurs came under fire recently from Salford university, as reported in the Guardian Northerner.
He has bought the luxury nook at the northern head of the twisty lake for £1,500,000 which is a bargain compared with the original valuation of £5,000,000.
That was set when the Von Essen group which owned the Sharrow Bay and 26 other hotels went banrkrupt with debts of some £295 million. Caan has done a deal totalling £4,500,000 which also includes the Ston Easton Park hotel which Von Essen used to run in Somerset.
The two hotels are the last in the portfolio to be sold after Von Essen’s creditor banks Barclays and Lloyds effectively forced the company into administration in April last year. Caan used to his private equity company Hamilton Bradshaw for the acquisition, whose bargain price for Sharrow Bay was helped by the relatively short lease remaining on the hotel and the fact that virtually all the other Von Essen properties had been sold and administrators wanted to get things resolved.
Sharrow Bay was founded in 1949 by Brian Sack and Francis Coulson and developed a reputation matched only by Miller Howe on Windermere. The hotels were immensely significant in promoting the trend which has seen scores of Lake District hotels undo all the good of their guests’ daytime fell-walking by providing five or more course banquets in the evening.
Coulson bought the country house after spotting an advertisement in the Manchester Guardian and built up a reputation for fine cuisine. His baking and puddings were especially famous, or notorious, including a bavarois called La Stupenda in honour of the opera singer Dame Joan Sutherland.
At Sharrow Bay, these would be served dramatically with a set-piece drawing of the curtains to reveal the magnificent view down the lake. Caan is understood to plan a revival of the hotel’s reputation as a boutique country house. A school leaver before taking O-levels, from a family which moved to the UK from Pakistan when he was two, he has been a canny investor in a series of companies. His most recent initiative was this year when he he set up an investment advisory service with Phil Spencer, the presenter of Channel 4 series Location, Location, Location.
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