The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Cabin John Village McDonald’s gets McRescued

Open+from+6%3A00+A.M+-+9%3A00+P.M+during+weekdays%2C+McDonalds+in+Cabin+John+Village+is+a+social+hub+for+hanging+out%2C+celebrations+and+quick+eats.
Photo by George Chang
Open from 6:00 A.M – 9:00 P.M during weekdays, McDonald’s in Cabin John Village is a social hub for hanging out, celebrations and quick eats.

Whether perfectly salted fries, cheap prices or kind staff, the McDonald’s in Cabin John Village (CJ) has been a community cornerstone for years. Earlier in November, however, Store Reporter announced that faltering lease negotiations between Edens—the company that manages CJ—and the Potomac franchisee meant that there was a high percentage of its closure. This resulted in swift public discourse, largely supporting attempts to prolong its stay.

“I know that McDonald’s gets a bad reputation for the GMOs, salt levels, business practices and other controversies, but I have never had a bad experience there,” WCHS senior Siena Merzger said. “I have very fond memories about going to CJ after AP exams, relaxing and debriefing with my friends while snacking on some fries.”

Indeed, these moments spurred community members such as Wendy Fink and Martha Larrazábal to organize a change.org petition to showcase support for McDonald’s. In the petition description, Fink cites reasons such as how it “serves as a gathering place for kids, sports teams, high schoolers and the elderly alike” and the way the restaurant is “always bustling with activity,” which helped affirm its importance; by Nov. 18th, there were more than 2,617 signers.

“Word about McDonald’s closure spread like wildfire among my family and friends, and I think the petition played a pivotal role in allowing the public to practice a little civic duty,” WCHS senior Aliza George said. “In fact, my brother is a middle schooler, and he was the one that broke the news to me. The petition link was heavily shared in his friend group, showing the popularity of McDonald’s across age groups.”

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As a result of the community pressure, the owners decided not to shut down its grills, an ending all sides can cherish.

“I honestly cannot believe I am saying this, but I think the community pressure and the petition WORKED!!!!” CJ McDonald’s owner Keri Swenson said in a social media post on Nov. 18, “The landlord called and was eager to sign with us. We are staying open.”

Interestingly, the attempted closure of McDonald’s also connects with broader themes of inflation and gentrification within Montgomery County. Although Potomac is a historically well-off neighborhood, the constant reshuffling of small businesses for higher-end services within shopping centers like CJ has disillusioned many individuals.

“When I first heard the news, my immediate thought was that it will be replaced with Sweetgreen or another overpriced salad bar,” Mezger said. “A few years ago, I could drop by CJ, and the food options were relatively affordable: Baskin Robbins, Broadway Pizza, etc. Nowadays, the only thing that I can buy without destroying my wallet is going to McDonald’s—and on top of that, prices only become reasonable once mobile deals are applied.”

However, some students are disturbed by the superficial reasons behind the support. The comment section of the change.org petition is reflective of this thought: most messages of encouragement boil down to monetary reasons or ease of access.

“I am rubbed the wrong way by the overwhelming support that I see, and I think it’s ironic that people are mad only because a hangout space is being taken away,” WCHS sophomore David Zaff said. “It was never about the workers and how they’re losing their jobs, but more about McDonald’s low prices. It is being treated as some mom-and-pop store when in reality, it’s a multi-billion dollar corporation.”

For many customers, the relationships they form with the cooks and cashiers and their top-notch service help elevate their sentimentality for the store.

“I have gone to the CJ McDonald’s for many years now, and I have also developed strong friendships with the workers,” WCHS senior Matt Hsuan said. “They make sure that I feel welcome and comfortable whenever I come. One of the cashiers always gives me deals for my orders, and the manager actually offered me a job once. I was really upset when I heard it was closing, and I could not imagine Cabin John without it.”

 

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About the Contributor
George Chang, Features Editor
George Chang is a senior and one of the Features Editors for the Observer. His hobbies include discovering new music, going on long walks, watching Survivor and reading poetry. This is his third year taking journalism.

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