Students organize gala to mark reopening of McDonald’s on Shattuck Avenue

Michael Wan/Staff

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Downtown Berkeley residents and students are McLovin’ the recently renovated McDonald’s on Shattuck Avenue, which had its public reopening Saturday.

The restaurant, located at 1998 Shattuck Ave., had been closed for four months due to renovations, according to McDonald’s manager Lisa Cardoso.

Gabby Bozmarova and Eugene Chang, two UC Berkeley undergraduate students, organized the restaurant’s Wednesday night reopening gala, where customers celebrated by dressing up in black-tie attire and dining with friends at the fast food restaurant.

According to Chang, the reopening gala, which he and Bozmarova began planning more than a month ago, was supposed to be a private event among close friends.

Instead of the small celebration they expected, more than 1,800 people expressed interest in the Facebook event.

“We didn’t realize the event was public at first on Facebook. It was supposed to be a small thing with just us, but then it blew up,” Bozmarova said.

Justin Oliver, a campus program coordinator for summer session and study abroad, called the event a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

“When do you ever dress up to go to McDonald’s?” Oliver said. “You gotta take advantage of it.”

Aaron Stern, another customer and Berkeley graduate student, expressed excitement about the restaurant’s reopening.

“This is a really important day for Berkeley,” Stern said. “I think it’s important that we honor it and treat it with a lot of care.”

To add to the lighthearted atmosphere of this event, Bozmarova and Chang brought with them fancy tablecloths, champagne glasses, napkins and metal utensils. Another group of customers brought a vase of flowers with them.

“We decided why not just bring everyone together and have a funny day where we just, like, dress up and go to McDonald’s,” Bozmarova said. “Cal is a stressful place so it’s nice to have days where you can just mess around and have fun.”

The reconstruction, however, negatively impacted the Missing Link Bicycle Cooperative, a nearby business. Phil Woosley, president of the store, noted that business dropped 30 percent from last year.

Woosley said that even with “a sign up saying we were open for business,” informing customers that they were not closed due to reconstruction, business sales still fell.

Several customers at the McDonald’s expressed an appreciation for the improvements to the restaurant as a result of the renovations.

“It’s much cleaner and nicer, so hopefully we get better respect for the McDonald’s,” said Sae Wilmer, a McDonald’s customer. “It was about time they renovated.”

Sean Song, another campus student, said McDonald’s had a depressing feeling that the renovation resolved.

“I think what they’re trying to do is up their image by making it look more modern,” Song said.

Contact Roann Pao at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @roann_pao.