New McDonald’s Opens Near Vatican Amid Controversy

Last week, a new McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) opened just outside Vatican City, 100 yards from the holy state, home of the Pope. The restaurant is located in the Roman district of Borgo, at the corner of Borgo Pio and Via del Mascherino. The 5,800 square foot location is open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week and has Wi-Fi available.

The fast-food chain announced in October that it planned to open a restaurant in a Vatican-owned building. The Vatican agency that oversees its real estate holdings, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, reportedly approved a lease for about 30,000 euros, or about $31,375.50, per month in rent. The building is also home to several senior cardinals, some of whom say they weren’t consulted on the McDonald’s.

The new location was opened over the objections of senior Roman Catholic leaders and some area residents. The October announcement was met with derision on many fronts. A group of residents called the Committee for the Protection of Borgo were the most vocal in their opposition.

Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, called the restaurant’s arrival a “disgrace,” and commented that the space would be better used to help the needy. He also claimed that the addition of the restaurant clashed with the aesthetics of the area and that the food “ignores the culinary tradition of Roman cuisine.” The Pope has not commented on the new McDonald’s.

Despite the complaints, the restaurant quietly opened without public protests. The official Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano did not have an announcement listed for the opening and no announcement was made by McDonald’s.

Two other McDonald’s are also within a close distance to the Vatican. One is located a few hundred yards from the Vatican Museum and another is roughly 200 yards away at Viale Giulio Cesare. There is also a Burger King nearby. However, the new McDonald’s is the only one actually located on Vatican property. Vatican officials also recently approved the addition of a Hard Rock Cafe on Via della Conciliazione that would replace a religious bookstore.