Still lovin’ it: Poles still have ‘smaka na maka’ as McDonald’s opens its 500th restaurant

Unveiled at the end of last week, the 500th fast food restaurant features a smart ‘luna’ aesthetic and a range of innovative solutions designed to significantly reduce electrical consumption. McDonald’s Polska

Thirty years after first entering the Polish market, McDonald’s are celebrating the opening of their 500th restaurant in the country.

The outlet has its own photovoltaic installation and a wind turbine charged with providing all the energy needed to illuminate the restaurant from the outside.McDonald’s Polska

Unveiled in Wyszków at the end of last week, the fast food restaurant features a smart ‘luna’ aesthetic that first debuted in China earlier in the year, and a range of innovative solutions designed to significantly reduce electrical consumption.

Among other things, these include the outlet’s own photovoltaic installation and a wind turbine charged with providing all the energy needed to illuminate the restaurant from the outside.

Debuting on June 17th, 1992, their premier made headline news in a nation looking to shake off its Communist past – seen almost as a validation of the country’s capitalist ambitions, to many it was a keynote moment in Poland’s economic and social transition.McDonald’s Polska

For the fast food giant, this latest news marks a remarkable three decades during which they have become one of the most recognizable brands in the country.

Debuting on June 17th, 1992, their premier made headline news in a nation looking to shake off its Communist past – seen almost as a validation of the country’s capitalist ambitions, to many it was a keynote moment in Poland’s economic and social transition.

Grzegorz Press/PAP

Grzegorz Press/PAP

Ludicrous as it might sound now, 45,000 people are estimated to have visited on the opening day, with the crowds so thick that security guards with walkie-talkies were employed to keep order.Grzegorz Press/PAP

Ludicrous as it might sound now, 45,000 people are estimated to have visited on the opening day, with the crowds so thick that security guards with walkie-talkies were employed to keep order.

Located on the corner of Świętokrzyska and Marszałkowska, such was the prestige of the event that politician Jacek Kuroń was invited to cut the red-and-white ribbon at the door. Stars, too, were in attendance, with the prolific poetess Agnieszka Osiecka and the national football manager Kazimierz Górski among those that visited.

Located on the corner of Świętokrzyska and Marszałkowska, such was the prestige of the event that stars event turned up, including the prolific poetess Agnieszka Osiecka (pictured centre).McDonald’s Polska

Apocryphal as it might be, some people are said to have dressed up for the occasion in suits and other formal finery.

What is undisputed is the fervour that it created. Manning 18 cash registers, staff were applauded by the public, with the cashiers guided in their actions by those with experience gained in England, Russia and what was then Yugoslavia.

Grzegorz Press/PAP

Some people are said to have dressed up for the occasion in suits and other formal finery.McDonald’s Polska

Queuing under a giant inflatable clown that bobbed up and down on the roof, the masses patiently filed through undeterred by the horrendous queues. In all, 13,304 transactions were recorded on this opening day, a world record at the time.

With the iconic Big Mac priced at PLN 25,000, it was a vastly different experience from today with reports from the time speaking of fries made from Russia potatoes and ketchup kept closely guarded under the counter. Nonetheless, a legend was born.

Manning 18 cash registers, staff were applauded by the public. In total, 13,304 transactions were recorded on this opening day, a world record at the time.McDonald’s Polska

Yet despite the global backlash against fast food culture, and even Poland’s own embrace of a more healthier lifestyle, McDonald’s has continued to enjoy huge popularity in the country, so much so that it has often been seen as a fertile ground to test new concepts.

With restaurant No. 500 successfully rolled out, this presence in Poland looks set to grow even larger as time moves on.