23 March 2019
McDonald’s restaurant at Kwun's Tong Yue Man Square will close down at the end of the month after 36 years of service. Photo: Google Maps
McDonald’s restaurant at Kwun's Tong Yue Man Square will close down at the end of the month after 36 years of service. Photo: Google Maps

Kwun Tong residents recall fond memories as Old Mac set to close

After 36 years of service, the McDonald’s restaurant at Yue Man Square in Kwun Tong is set to close in two weeks as redevelopment work at the town center gathers pace.

At exactly 8 p.m. on Aug. 30, the fast-food joint will stop serving customers, reports.

Employees of the restaurant confirmed that that they have been told by management that they will be relocated to other stores.

Many long-time residents and office workers in the area are sad to see its red neon lights and giant Golden Arches sign dim.

McDonald’s, with its famous retro decor, has been a favorite dining and meeting place in the area since it opened in 1981. Locals call it “Old Mac”.

A regular customer surnamed Ho said he always likes to sit upstairs and look out of the window to watch the world pass by.

At McDonald’s, he could sit as long as he wants – for the price of a cup of milk tea.

Now 83, he said the face of this part of Hong Kong has changed so much over the years, citing the opening of the apm shopping mall as an example.

Students will also miss the restaurant a lot because it is here where they do their homework and group projects.

“Coming here is better than going back to school as we can talk here for as long as we like and there will be no one to chase us away,” one student said.

“At school, the teachers are always busy and we need to trouble the janitors to open the doors for us to enter a room where we can sit and talk.”

Many millennials also expressed sadness for the loss of a place where they kill time before heading home.

Singer Chan Hong-kin, who grew up in Kwun Tong, has fond memories of Old Mac, saying that when he was a kid his grandmother often brought him here for snacks, Apple Daily reported.

“I don’t even know why I was so happy, but I had breakfast here all the time. It just tasted better here,” he said.

Chan recalled that the restaurant used to have a fake apple tree for children to sit on, and said a McDonald’s birthday party was the wish of almost every kid in his neighborhood.

Many students hang out at game centers nearby and then proceed to McDonald’s for snacks or just to chat with friends.

Some friends, who work part-time at the restaurant, would give them something extra on top of their orders.

“You could get HK$40 worth of fries but you paid only half the price,” Chan said. “It’s almost like the best place on earth back then.”

“Many might not come here anymore after so many years, but it still remains special to me how many people work here, read here, study here or even date here. I remember it used to be quite romantic, you didn’t need to do much but be in the same space together.”

McDonald’s plans to open a new outlet in the neighborhood, but Chan thinks it will not be the same as Old Mac because it’s the memories that count.

NGO founder Yuen Chi-yan told Apple Daily that he used to live in the area when he was young but moved to another place in 2003 during his university days.

He said his first girlfriend also lived in Kwun Tong, and the Old Mac was their favorite place to hang out.

Members of his NGO also frequent the shop not only because of the affordable prices but also because it has plenty of seats where they can discuss business.

“Somehow, it is like an unofficial community center,” Yuen said. “There are so many people here enjoying their time, like couples chatting, someone tutoring a kid in one corner, and old men playing chess.”

Many people also sleep overnight at McDonald’s; they jokingly call themselves Mac-refugees.

Ben, who comes to the restaurant almost every night, said anyone who plans to stay overnight must come in earlier to occupy a seat and sleep only when the crowd has thinned, otherwise the manager would wake them up.

The Old Mac set a record back in Oct. 18, 1981 when it served the biggest number of customers within a day globally. The store also made it to the world’s top ten busiest McDonald’s in 1992.

The Kwun Tong redevelopment plan has removed many landmarks of the district and some fear the only part that will stay the same is the MTR Kwun Tong Station, although that too may change.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s said no special event or ceremony has been planned for Old Mac’s closing night. 

A new McDonald’s will be opened the next day at nearby Crocodile Centre.

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