When McDonald's transformed Rotterdam's "ugliest building" into a modernist dream, heads turned. Now, another McDonald's outpost has found itself in the limelight, but this time, for a completely different reason. It's even being dubbed "the most controversial McDonald's in the world."
So how does an eatery – in this case, a McCafe – get such a dubious title? It opens inside a historic landmark.
Now, less than a week since the cafe's opening inside a historic villa in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, the locals are up in arms, .
The 84-year-old villa, located near the city's West Lake, once housed a former Taiwan leader, Chiang Ching-kuo, before Hangzhou fell to the Communist Party in 1949 and Taiwan receded. In 2004, the locally regarded structure was declared a cultural relic.
However, the local authorities began subletting the property. After the private club that had been renting the space closed in 2014 due to corruption, local businessman Shen Chunlei took over the lease, spending $800,000 on renovations before opening the McCafe on November 15.
Though Chunlei kept the building's original exterior intact, he did modernize the interior. But, as he told CNN, he also hung posters inside of Chiang Ching-kuo as a way to pay respect to the building's past. Still, these nods to the villa's legacy have not been enough to ward off public criticism.
The McCafe's debut follows the opening of a Starbucks last month in a separate wing of the same villa, according to the . Many local residents are now fearing their historic city will soon be overrun by the modern, Western world.
It seems only time – and a few hundred signature McCafe coffees – will tell.