Head out to Long Island right to the edge of the city, then cross the Nassau County border on Jericho Turnpike, and you'll find what just might be the fanciest McDonald's in America. I don't mean a McDonald's where the seats aren't broken and the air doesn't have that smell; I mean a bona fide McDonald's mansion.
I found myself on this part of Long Island after a meal at one of the area's many excellent Indian restaurants; my travel companion had told me about a McMcMansion that had to be seen to be believed, and lo, just off the main thoroughfare, there it is. It even has a name: Denton House.
The house (which, in my post-trip research, I learned has been documented diligently on Scouting NY, the city's best blog about strange and incredible places) dates back to 1795. It was renovated in 1860 to appear like a Georgia plantation house, porch and all, then used as a space for local businesses through the 20th Century until it was once again abandoned and fell into disrepair.
McDonald's bought Denton House with the plan to tear it down and build a standard restaurant, but a speedy local initiative to register the building as a landmark—after McDonald's had already bought it—meant that the chain became the unintentional steward of the mansion, and charged with its preservation. To its credit, McDonald's has done just that, restoring the house's fine architectural details while transforming most of its spacious first floor into a series of dining rooms. The second floor is cordoned off by a velvet rope; it can be reserved for private events.
This is all old news to regular customers, who think nothing of eating their Big Macs in a glass-enclosed veranda or on the restaurant's front porch, watching the cars go by. But if you head over for a visit, you'll likely be blown away by the grandness of the place. And if you're wondering, the food's as McDonald's-y as you expect. No secrets to the menu that I could suss out.
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