[Representational image] | Picture credit: Creative Commons

The French value their food and wine, and have been known to turn their noses up to most things American. However, something different is happening in a French town: Residents are fighting to keep the Marseille McDonald’s outlet open.

And that too when McDonald’s itself wants to shutter it!

The locals have taken the legal and political routes to keep this Golden Arches branch from being shuttered. Even local politicians have cut across party lines and joined hands to keep the outlet open.

But why? Apparently, this outlet is not just a job-provider, but is also keeping some possible troublemakers off the streets!

What gives?

The Saint-Barthélémy branch of McDonald’s in northern Marseille may seem like every other outlet of the American chain that has spread to almost everywhere across the world.

What sets it apart is that the neighbourhood it is located in has a high crime rate. Also, the unemployment rate there is triple that of France’s national average.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the branch – the second-largest private employer in the area – is a ray of hope for many.

And that includes the 77 people it employs. These consist of not only locals but also school dropouts and convicts who have served their sentences, and would have otherwise found it difficult to gain employment.

[Representational image] | Picture credit: Creative Commons

Why else is Marseille McDonald’s important?

The Marseille McDonald’s also seems to be as much a community centre as an eatery, especially after the local bakery, butcher shop and hairdresser have all shut shop.

That leaves few other places people from the area can go to, according to a residents’ association’s member Salim Grabsi.

He told The Telegraph: “There’s nothing left in areas like this and McDonald’s is a centre of community life, a place where families can sit down and relax with their kids.”

Its employees have challenged the impending closure in court, despite its franchise-holder saying the branch makes a loss.

It now remains to be seen who wins this battle.

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