The infamous McDonald’s restaurant on Rideau Street in downtown Ottawa is closing its doors this spring.
The property owner tells CTV News Ottawa the franchise owner decided not to renew the lease and the restaurant will close in April. The space will be available for lease starting in July.
“We knew that they may not be there; it wasn’t a big surprise,” Peter Crosthwaite, asset manager at 60 George St., told CTV News Ottawa. The restaurant opened in 1985.
“They are a pretty dynamic organization, they have the right to look at different spots and maybe they felt the time was right,” Crosthwaite said. “But there’s maybe things that made it seem more right than usual.”
The restaurant in the heart of Ottawa’s tourist district became a notorious spot for late night crowds after last call at bars and restaurants. The McDonald’s gained particular notoriety following the release of a video filmed in December 2013 showing a man pull a baby raccoon out of his sweater while others were involved in a fight.
In 2019, then-Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau sent a letter to the President and CEO of McDonald’s Canada to raise concerns about “ongoing criminal activity and social disorder” at the Rideau Street location. McDonald’s then reduced its hours of operation to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. following a meeting with police. It had been open for 24 hours a day.
Ottawa police say they were called to the restaurant more than 150 times in 2022, significantly lower than the more than 800 calls for service in 2018 that prompted the location to change its hours.
Crosthwaite tells CTV News Ottawa he thinks McDonald’s started seeing losses when they stopped operating 24 hours a day. He adds there were other challenges for businesses on Rideau Street, including McDonald’s.
“The city tore up Rideau Street and put the subway in. Then they re-tore it to enhance it, put curbing in,” Crosthwaite said.
“The freedom rallies and we had COVID; all these things are upheavals that can’t make it easy for a steady, reliable operation.”
CTV News reached out to McDonald’s for comment, but did not receive a response.
A listing on Spacelist, a commercial real estate website, shows Unit 101 at 60 George Street available for lease, starting in the third quarter of 2023.
“Great branding opportunity in the ByWard Market! Prime location with about 40’ of frontage on Rideau St. directly across from the Rideau Shopping Centre,” the listing says, noting Unit 101 is a restaurant space with venting in place.
“Additional entrance on George St. with about 25’ of frontage. Strong exposure with a constant high level of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Street parking nearby and great transit service.”
The listing says the lease for Unit 101 can be combined with Unit 108, which is an empty space next to the McDonald’s.
The McDonald’s restaurant on Rideau Street is currently open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for takeout only. The dining room remains closed to customers.
McDonald’s will still have locations in downtown Ottawa on Elgin Street and on Bank Street.