McDonald's versus the Elderly Sitting Koreans

Flushing McDonald's is the happening hot spot for Korean seniors, much to restaurant's dismay

A McDonald's in Queens has become the unlikely site of a cranky conflict between the fast food restaurant and a group of elderly Korean patrons. The McDonald's, located in Flushing, says the group drives away business by sitting for hours. Seems like a silly thing to quarrel about, but the New York Times has taken notice:

Fighting a McDonald’s in Queens for the Right to Sit. And Sit. And Sit.

Whether the restaurant likes it or not, that McDonald's location has become a regular gathering place for local Korean seniors -- and a growing problem for the restaurant, which says the patrons who colonize the seats on a daily basis are quashing business, taking up tables for hours. The group, however, says they are paying customers who are entitled to take their time.

The situation has reportedly escalated in recent months. Harsh words exchanged, coffee spilled, and cops called to the scene. Doesn't this McDonald's know that you don't mess with elderly Koreans?

And though they have treated the corner restaurant as their own personal meeting place for more than five years, they say, the situation has escalated in recent months. The police said there had been four 911 calls since November requesting the removal of the entrenched older patrons. Officers have stopped in as frequently as three times a day while on patrol, according to the patrons, who sidle away only to boomerang right back. Medium cups of coffee ($1.09 each) have been spilled; harsh words have been exchanged. And still - proud, defiant and stuck in their ways - they file in each morning, staging a de facto sit-in amid the McNuggets.

"Large group — males, females — refusing to get up and leave," read the police summary of one 911 call placed on Jan. 3 at 2:30 p.m. "The group passed a lot of sit-down time. Refusing to let other customers sit."
I don't know why someone would want to spend any extended amount of time inside a McDonald's, but that's just me. What's clear is that this community just wants a place to gather and socialize, and this McDonald's has become their hangout of choice. Yes, it's a place of business. But I'm sympathetic. Cheap food aside, it's a warm, open place to sit and shoot the shit. If you've got nothing else to do, isn't that all an ahjushi really wants?

But it's just this location. For some reason, Burger King and another McDonald's -- both located just a few blocks away -- just haven't caught on as a hot spot for the area's elderly Koreans.

The situation actually reminds of this KoreAm story from a couple of years ago, about a McDonald's patio in Los Angeles' Koreatown that had similarly become a regular gathering place for Korean seniors. Definitely some insight into the location's allure: Under The Golden Arches

This is a headache for the McDonald's, but here's hoping that the situation in Flushing doesn't get out of hand. There have been 911 calls, police summoned, and people kicked out. Like I said, it seems like a silly quarrel, but silly quarrels have a weird way of escalating. And also, like I said, you don't mess with elderly Koreans.

More here: Elderly Koreans in NY Have Nowhere to Go

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