I can empathize with both sides here. The elderly couple who appear to be bothering no one could be your parents or grandparents. However, the franchise owner / manager does have a right to be concerned that these folks are not there for business purposes, but just simply taking up space.
After an elderly couple got the boot from their local McDonald’s for sitting too long, management and the owner are not answering the question if there really is a 30-minute sitting limit at the Culpeper, Va. fast food restaurant.
Carl Becker, 87, a World War II veteran, and his wife Barbara Becker, 81, say they both were at the Culpeper McDonald’s on Feb. 21 at about 2:30 p.m. when they were approached by the manager.
The location is a place the pair has frequented for years.
“And he says ‘You two are going to have to leave.’ He said ‘Your half hour is up and we need to clean this floor,’” says Barbara Becker. The restaurant was not crowded at the time, she says, and the two were stunned. This was the first time they had ever been asked to leave a McDonald’s.
“We’ve never, ever, ever been kicked out of a McDonald’s,” she says, adding that they’ve have been patrons of the fast food chain for decades and since their own children were kids. The couple has six children ranging in age from 43 to 61 and 14 grandchildren with one on the way, due March 10.
“Now our grandchildren are McDonald’s lovers,” she says adding that they spend lots of time at McDonald’s because they are on a fixed income and it’s affordable. Her husband loves getting the chicken sandwich, she says and that it’s a treat for the both of them to just eat, talk and enjoy each other’s company.
The owner of the Culpeper McDonald’s franchise has since apologized to the couple personally and is staging an internal investigation into what happened.
The Beckers have been back at McDonald’s since, just not this particular one in Culpeper.
Like it or not, fast food restaurants work on a high rate of turnover of tables, booths and customer orders (not just the drive-thrus). If a new customer comes in and sees no seating available, they very well might leave and go somewhere else. Add in the likelihood of many folks who just sit there all day — apparently an issue in some New York City restaurants.
But then again, how is this any different than someone buying a $4 cup of coffee at Starbucks and hogging a table all day while they “work on their screenplay” or just use the WiFi? (Admit it, we’ve all been there.) With many of these places used to high foot traffic, a couple monopolizing a table is an issue not just to other customers, but the bottom line.
That being said, I don’t see “time limits” at tables — especially at places like mall food courts or urban franchises — as that out of the ordinary. Just make sure they’re posted for all to see.
On personal note, I’m fairly certain I’ve eaten at this very McDonald’s once or twice. My brother used to live in Culpeper, VA shortly after we lived together in Alexandria from 2008-09. He ended up living in that rather nice little town for a number of years until recently up and moving to Camp LeJeune at the USMC’s behest in 2013.