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McDonald’s sues Milan over “unfair” eviction

Landmark restaurant in Milan's iconic Galleria forced to close by the city.

McDonald’s is suing the city of Milan for €24 million (£19.5m) in damages after being kicked out of the historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to make way for what would be the arcade’s second Prada outlet.
The restaurant, flanked by plush boutiques including Gucci and Louis Vuitton’s flagship stores, had been flipping burgers in the 19th century marble-floored mall for over 20 years and was the chain’s third busiest restaurant in Italy.
Losing its spot in the luxurious tourist hotspot, which links La Scala Opera house to the city’s historic Duomo cathedral, would cost the company €6 million per year in lost revenue according to Paolo Mereghetti, head of communication at McDonald’s Italy.

The fast-food giant protested that the city of Milan, which owns the Galleria, fixed a public tender with clauses that inescapably excluded the restaurant. McDonald’s also complained that it was the only business in the complex not to be given a right of first refusal on a new rental contract.

“We don’t want to fight with the city, but we were kicked out unfairly”, said Roberto Masi, chief executive of Mcdonald’s Italy.

Between noon and 4pm on Tuesday, the restaurant left over 5000 customers with a parting gift of free burgers, fries and drinks between noon and 4pm.

“We wanted to say goodbye to the Galleria with a smile”, said Mereghetti.

In a token of support, over 1,500 people left affectionate messages on a Facebook page set up by McDonald's to announce the eviction.

Prior to its closure, the restaurant offered the cheapest dining alternative to the Galleria’s host of high-end cafes and bistros, its €7.80 Big Mac meal dwarfed by the neighbouring Savini restaurant, which charges upwards of €27 for its salads.

This isn’t the first Italian legal forray for McDonald’s lawyers, in 2003, the corporation sued Edoardo Raspelli – an Italian food critic – for a reported €21 million after he lambasted its burgers as “rubber” and compared eating its fries to chewing on cardboard.

Alex Ward is a London-based freelance journalist who has previously worked for the Times & the Press Association. Twitter: @alexward3000