A second McDonalds restaurant opened in Griffith on Saturday (3 February), sparking frenzied debate over whether this was good or bad for the town.
Some have welcomed the injection of jobs to the local economy and praised the food quality, while others expressed concern about the impact competition would have on local family-owned restaurants, with one critic suggesting Griffith could start to look like Wagga, which has over 15 fast-food joints.
Region spoke to a number of customers of the new fast-food store on Tuesday, and the feedback we received was mostly positive.
Roree Moorhouse, who was visiting from Hay, was satisfied with her experience.
“I was served in five minutes, it’s clean and we were all really happy with the service,” she said.
“We don’t have a McDonalds in our town. We are visiting Griffith to do some back to school shopping, so it’s nice to be able to come here.”
Her friends Issy and Chrissy Murray were also impressed, as was Griffith hairdresser Sienna Donadel.
“The other night we went there at 9 pm and it was closed; we were like, ‘Oh, damn,'” she said. “I hoped it would be open 24 hours.
“But that’s the only thing. Other than that, I love it. Everything was amazing.”
Another young customer, who asked not to be identified, was less impressed.
“I had to wait 20 minutes for my order; the service isn’t great.”
Former Griffith resident Greg McWilliam expressed a rare, nuanced view on the broader impact of the new business.
“Does the city really need a conglomerate from the US? Good for jobs and the economy, otherwise. Town will look like Wagga in no time.”
Wagga has four McDonalds stores, three KFCs and several other chain food stores. By contrast, the dining scene in multicultural Griffith has been dominated by family-owned Italian, Indian and Asian restaurants, and historically there have been fewer fast-food joints present compared to other regional cities.
This is gradually changing, and some have expressed concern about the impact competition from multinational chains would have on longstanding independent Banna Avenue restaurants.
“Don’t celebrate [McDonalds opening] people, these franchises are sending small business broke,” one critic said on Facebook.
But this was countered by an unexpected source, Griffith’s longest-serving waitress Maria Bianchini, who works at the town’s oldest restaurant Belvedere.
“Both McDonalds are owned by a local family, so the money stays in town. If you don’t like it, don’t go,” she said.
“If everyone can do a better job, go apply, otherwise stop the bad vibes.”
The new Griffith South McDonalds in located at Lot 12/892 Kidman Way, near Griffith City Cinemas. It’s run by franchisees Matt and Larissa Gidley, who took over the first Griffith McDonalds in town five years ago. That store is located at the corner of Banna and Crossing Streets.