COLUMBIA — Since May 1978, the McDonald’s in Lowry Mall has been a symbol of freedom from campus dorm food and 99-cent hamburger specials for MU students. But starting in June, the McDonald’s will be no more.
Changes at MU helped with the decision not to renew the 10-year lease for the McDonald’s corporation and owners Mark and Kate Mehle, McDonald’s spokeswoman Lili Vianello said. Road access was cut off when Lowry street became Lowry Mall, decreasing accessibility, and MU’s residence halls began offering pre-paid dining plans, increasing competition.
Oversaturation and changing needs were also at fault. “Four additional McDonald’s restaurants have opened in Columbia, plus one in Ashland,” Vianello said in an e-mail. “Drive thru services have become increasingly important to people on the go.”
MU hasn’t determined what it will use the space for yet, said spokesman Christian Basi. It has a variety of options, but space constraints and costs of renovation and changes will figure into the decision.
No immediate plans have been made for when the McDonald’s closes its doors, he said. “We’ll make that decision later.”
Customers on Friday were, for the most part, unaware that the store was closing. One customer, a chemistry professor at MU, seemed only mildly concerned.
“Where else am I going to clog my arteries?” Michael Harmata joked. He said that while he’s not a regular, he enjoys having a McDonald’s on campus because it is convenient.
Employees of the store, wrote Vianello, would be offered positions at the other five local McDonald’s.