Is it discriminatory to tell a new McDonald’s to stay the hell out of your historic district? Admittedly, MickeyD’s doesn’t really have many historical credentials unless we’re talking about the oldest operating location in Downey, California, or maybe the extent of the failure of the Arch Deluxe. Meanwhile, Florence, Italy, has more history than it knows what to do with. It’s easy to see why the famed Italian city would want to keep a couple of golden arches from sullying its beautiful sights like Michelangelo’s David’s penis. But after being rejected from opening a location in one of Florence’s most historic plazas, McDonald’s claims the Italian city is being unfair, and the burger chain has sued it for nearly €18 million (practically $20 million).
The dispute stems from McDonald’s attempts to open an outpost on the Piazza del Duomo. According to the BBC, Florence’s mayor rejected the idea in June and that decision was upheld by a panel dedicated to preserving the city’s heritage in July. But McDonald’s says it’s done everything the city has asked it to do along the way – modifying its proposals to “operate respectfully towards the local policies, even accepting to introduce typical local products in our offer, as requested from the local commerce regulation.” So, feeling slighted, McDonald’s is seeking damages to the tune of the amount of money it estimates it will lose out on over the next 18 years: €17.8 million.
“We completely agree that the cultural and artistic heritage and the Italian historical town centres have to be protected and guaranteed, as well as the traditions and the historical small shops, but we cannot accept discriminatory regulations that damage the freedom of private initiative without being advantageous to anyone,” the fast food chain told the BBC.
On the other side, however, Florence mayor Dario Nardella says his city simply has the right to say no. “McDonald's has the right to submit an application, because this is permitted under the law, but we also have the right to say no,” Nardella was quoted as saying.
The BBC doesn’t give any insight into whether McDonald’s will actually be able to win its legal challenge, but either way, it’s Florence: that city probably has $20 million paintings they can sell stacked up behind radiator at city hall.