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Ronald McDonald to make fast food's arrival official


He's long been a symbol of American cultural progress, invading Europe, Russia and even the People's Republic of China.

This week, Ronald McDonald is coming to west county, until now untouched by fast-food hegemony.

Tomorrow, at 6 p.m., the hamburger clown will visit the new McDonald's in Lisbon Center, which is celebrating its grand opening this week.

"We're all excited. We couldn't wait for this to open up, because normally you'd have to go to Columbia or Ellicott City," said Suzanne Kraus, 19, who came to the new McDonald's yesterday with her mother, Philis Kraus, and grandmother, Gertrude Barrenger, all of Glenwood.

"There's not much to do out in the country, so this is a big attraction," agreed Mrs. Kraus, 49. She and Mrs. Barrenger, 85, could remember going to McDonald's for the first time in Perry Hall more than three decades ago.

"They were right outside, you had to go up to an open-air counter," said Mrs. Barrenger, who judged the quality of the new McDonald's "about the same" as the old one.

Not everyone in Lisbon is pleased, however.

Dot Gray, who works at 175-year-old Lee's Market on Frederick Road, said she worries that people who come to her business for breakfast when it opens at 8 a.m. will be tempted to go instead to McDonald's, which opens at 6 a.m.

And, she added, "if you've got small kids, all you have to do is buy them a Happy Meal and then they're fine."

As if to prove the point, Courtney Martz, 8, daughter of another Lee's employee, flashed a bright smile upon mention of "McDonald's."

"I like their toys," she said.

And the food?

"Some of it."

After Ronald McDonald, or at least an actor playing him, makes his appearance tomorrow, promoters have planned a nostalgia night on Saturday, during which the parking lot will be filled with vintage cars.

McDonald's planners picked the site -- at Route 94 and Old Frederick Road -- for their new store based on market surveys.

Not having a McDonald's in the area was not all bad, in the eyes of Ms. Gray, who argued that people move to the country because there are no fast-food outlets.

"I hate to see the country disappear, because I've lived here in this area for over 30 years," said Ms. Gray, a Sykesville resident. "I don't mind going to the city for certain things."

Ms. Gray conceded that the McDonald's could have a positive effect on some local businesses by attracting customers off the interstate.

Mary Foster, a 30-year Lisbon resident who used to own Foster & Clark Heating and Air Conditioning, shared that view. "I think it's great -- we get more people that would be traveling to stop in here, which gives anybody with a business more exposure," she said.

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