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Last Updated on March 27, 2021 by Helga

Since then, McDonald’s took over the country! When did McDonald’s open in Italy? How many McDonald’s are in Italy? A quick overview of the first McDonald’s in Italy as well as we’re trying to answer all the questions about McDonald’s in Italy! First things first:

McDonald’s in Italy

Let’s see the story of McDonald’s in Italy. It all started with the first fast food chain opening its first restaurant at the Spanish Steps in Rome.

When did Mcdonald’s open in Italy?

The first McDonald’s in Italy opened in Rome in the 1980s.

The first restaurant took the spot of a prestigious bar, right off the Spanish Steps, across from the Spanish Embassy. Indeed, it t was a drastic move. While McDonald’s had ample experience moving into new markets, Italy was especially difficult. At first, the fast-food was unpopular. In fact, the clientele was demanding, especially about the ingredients.

Despite this, the opening was huge. So big that teenagers nearly stormed the restaurant, stopping traffic and causing havoc in the streets. To stop the mania, officials decreed that McDonald’s had to close at certain times -until further notice. This was McDonald’s first problem in Italy. And not it’s last.

Rome’s first McDonald’s was only a few doors down from Valentino’s atelier. So, the designer sued the chain, saying that the smell of their fries ruined the clothes. A long battle ensued, which resulted in McDonald’s fixing venting and airflow.

A success despite the issues

It seemed McDonald’s was doomed, but that was far from true. The fast-food giant had enough cash flow to push through the tough times. Soon, they opened a second restaurant in Rome. This was more American in its layout. For a long time, only a few McDonald’s operated in Italy. Strange? Not really.

In fact, McDonald’s had a plan. The chain patiently waited until the timing was right. Then, it opened franchises all over the country.

The expansion of McDonald’s in Italy

To expand in the Italian market, McDonald’s bought out their competitor: Burghy. This was a chain from Italy’s largest meat producer, Cremonini. The two made a deal. McDonald’s took over all Burghy restaurants. In exchange, Cremonini became the sole meat supplier for American fast food.

Despite this, convincing older generations to eat at McDonald’s was difficult. So, to win over parents, McDonald’s introduced healthier food options, like salad and pasta bars. Indeed, it was an instant success.

A further increase in market share occurred through a business agreement with Italian oil giant Agip. This agreement allowed the opening of more restaurants in gas stations. While still not as popular in Italy as it is in North America, the Total Erg drive-thrus remain.

The final step in McDonald’s Italian takeover was to introduce franchising, moving away from a controlled corporate environment. Franchising led private citizens and small businesses to invest and to spread the chain. The number of McDonald’s currently open in Italy today would have been unthinkable even in the 90s. Even better for McDonald’s, they remain one of the few chains that have managed to be successful in Italy, at least in this magnitude.

Others have tried and failed while Burger King has a much smaller market share. To gain more customers McDonald’s recently embraced a careful campaign of providing good, healthy food based on Italian products and ingredients, moving away from their greasy, fast-food image. McDonald’s has become a favorite spot for birthday parties.

It’s the story of success.

The success of McDonald’s proves that, despite political and social adversity, the brand is able to thrive in new countries. Italians have embraced McDonald’s as have the tourists who appear happy to find one on every corner. What really stuns is how quickly Italy came to be dominated by the Golden Arches, which can now be seen gleaming next to historical landmarks like the Pantheon.

There are though different stories that we must highlight. For example, the story of Mcdonald’s in Milan, Italy. While for 20 years there was a McDonald’s in the fancy Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II. The city council decided though that there shouldn’t be a fast food shop in the luxurious building, so they made them close it. Now there’s a Prada shop in its place. However, you can still find the McDonald’s in Milan, Italy still close to the Duomo, opposite the Gallery.

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