McDonald’s Sues the city of Florence

So imagine this now: McDonald’s is suing Florence for €18 million after it was blocked from opening a restaurant on one of the Italian city’s most historic piazzas, Piazza del Duomo!

The bid was stopped in June, then upheld by a technical panel in charge of preserving the city’s ancient character. The historical center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage site, after all.

Now, the international chain is claiming it has been discriminated against, and wants to recoup the €17.8m ($19.7m) it estimates it will lose over the next 18 years, had it been awarded a license, according to Italian newspaper Firenze Today.

As we had shared back in June, McDonald’s had put forward a plan that would accept restrictions and variations to its usual model of business. This included using local products and suppliers, as other restaurants and businesses operating in the center are required to follow.

The city’s right to say no

The international chain, however, complains that these are “discriminatory regulations that damage the freedom of private initiative without being advantageous to anyone”, as McDonald’s told the BBC in a statement.

We would argue that if all businesses in the center have to follow these regulations, it is hardly discriminatory towards McDonald’s over any other business. City Major Dario Nardella asserts they were not prejudiced in rejecting the bid, as they had a right to submit in application. At the same time, the city also has the right to say no.

This is the second high profile spat over an Italian location this year for McDonald’s, who recently also had a bid to open a branch next to the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square refused.

  • Gys de Beer

    Uhm….McDonalds in a Unesco heritage sight? No thanks! What a way to mar the beauty that is piazza del duomo!
    The city has every right to say no!

    • The irony is also refusing to recognize that there are already 2 other McDs within a 15 min walk or less from Piazza Duomo (at the train station and near Pza San Marco)…. AND seeking to get money from the city for what they supposedly would have made had they opened the restaurant in that location. Is that how business is done across the world? I doubt it! 😉

      • Gys de Beer

        Corporate greed – what can one say!

        It’s sickening that they seek to enlarge their footprint and thereby increase profits by muscling in on an area of high tourist traffic, ignoring the fact that, as mentioned before, it is a heritage site. And even more so considering the fact that there are 2 other outlets nearby as you so rightly mention.
        Then, like a spoiled child, they throw a tantrum when mommy won’t allow them to do what they want, so they take mommy to court???
        Imagine for a second Rome allowed McD to open a franchise INSIDE the Colosseum, or have a take-out window inside the Pantheon?
        It’s sacrilege! So Florence should stick to their guns and fight McD with all they have to protect and preserve the beauty of the historic city centre.
        I’m sure Lorenzo de Medici would be turning in his grave at all of this!

        • Yes, I agree – it comes down to corporate greed because seriously, there really is no need for more money and for them to try to impose themselves on a city to have a specific location is just ridiculous!
          Within the context of Piazza del Duomo, it just would CLASH! I don’t think they would make as much money as they think they would. Visitors like yourself and locals like myself would never go eat there! I just would not support them at all.

    • Thanks for saying that! The city has the right to say, no thanks, we’re not interested in selling out on the beauty of the square so that you, international corporation, can make money. It’s a good reminder to consider that there are far more important things in life than just more money.