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Jakarta Post

'A place of fond memories': Flagship McDonald’s store in Jakarta's Sarinah bids farewell

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, May 8, 2020   /   05:27 pm
'A place of fond memories': Flagship McDonald’s store in Jakarta's Sarinah bids farewell Sitting in a corner of the historical Sarinah shopping center on Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta, Indonesia's first McDonald's restaurant opened on Feb. 23, 1991 and has since been an icon for many urbanites in the capital. (Twitter/@duwiry)

Indonesia's first McDonald's restaurant in the Sarinah shopping center in Central Jakarta, which for years has been an icon for urbanites in the capital, will permanently shut its doors this Sunday after nearly three decades in business.

McDonald’s Indonesia bade farewell to the flagship store after receiving an official letter from the management of Sarinah on April 30, stating that the government-owned building would undergo a renovation and make changes to its business strategy in the near future.

Many Jakartans turned to social media after the announcement to share their memories of the fast food restaurant, which has been a go-to spot for workers, students and families.

“McD Sarinah” became a trending topic on Twitter on Thursday evening, with more than 20,000 tweets related to the restaurant’s closure.

“One of my family’s traditions in the month of Ramadan that cannot be fulfilled this year is sahur [predawn meal] at McD Sarinah,” Twitter user @tweetiani posted on May 3.

Another user, @AmmarshaR, posted a picture showing the back of Ronald McDonald – the clown mascot of the restaurant chain – waving goodbye to the McDonald's store, located in the corner of the historical shopping center on Jl. MH Thamrin.

“[The store is] a cultural heritage, many may say. One of the oldest fast food establishments in the country," the user tweeted on Friday, "I’ve had my fair share of time spent there, from waiting for a date to a quick dinner after a midnight trip. It’s a place of fond memories."

Some Jakartans also remembered how the restaurant was a silent witness of chaotic incidents on one of the busiest streets in the capital, including a bombing in 2016 and the deadly post-election riots following the 2019 presidential race.

McDonald’s Indonesia marketing and communications director Michael Hartono said he was aware of how McDonald’s Sarinah had become an important place for some and that many customers had had their first experiences in the restaurant.

“We express our deepest gratitude to all our loyal consumers who have jointly raised McDonald’s Sarinah and created millions of sweet memories with us there,” Michael said in a press statement released on Thursday.

“It will certainly have a very deep mark on us because of the history, memories and celebrations of important events taking place at McDonald’s Sarinah. We will continue to try to provide the best for our customers and look for other strategic locations.”

The company said it would ensure that all employees who had been working at McDonald’s Sarinah would keep their jobs and be relocated to other restaurants.

There are 227 McDonald’s restaurants across Indonesia.

McDonald’s Sarinah first opened on Feb. 23, 1991, with the management license partly owned by businessman Bambang Rachmadi, who also managed 12 other restaurants in the country, together with McDonald’s Corporation.

In 2009, McDonald’s Corporation sold its master franchise to the Sosro Group, a subsidiary of the Rekso Group, which resulted in Bambang changing the name of the McDonald’s in Sarinah and elsewhere to ToniJack’s.

A year later, ToniJack’s had to close a number of its outlets, including those in strategic places like Sarinah, amid sluggish business. Rekso Group retook the Sarinah building in February 2011 and brought back McDonald’s.

PT Sarinah president director Gusti Ngurah Putu Sugiarta Yasa said that the renovation of the Sarinah building this year would support the company’s new business concepts.

He said the renovation would start with the annex and department store areas in the beginning of June and that the company would prioritize accommodating tenants currently in Sarinah.