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Home / Articles / News / Local News /  Temple of the Golden Arches

Temple of the Golden Arches

A search for the prize at the bottom of Santa Fe’s McDonald’s

September 17, 2008, 12:00 am

Location: Cerrillos Road and Richards Avenue
Order: One medium orange juice, one medium Premium Roast iced coffee, caramel flavoring

Barristas at Starbucks in Seattle often complain about the “ghetto latte,” a budgetary trick employed by unemployed hipsters.

They’ll order an Americano, half-ice, no water, fill the rest up with milk from the condiment counter and voila! Use some of the free cocoa powder and you’ve got yourself a mocha.

As a formerly unemployed Seattle hipster, I can attest to the authenticity of McDonald’s new iced coffee line: They have perfected the watery, double-ghetto latte (multiplied since no espresso is actually involved).

The orange juice, on the other hand, is standard diner-class Minute Maid and the only noteworthy element is the fine print beneath the lid: McDonald’s has trademarked the phrase “I’m lovin’ it” in no less than eight languages, including Chinese and Russian, just so they can arrange the lines into snowflakes for a Taiwanese pop star to blow seductively around the circumference of the cup.

It’s approximately 9 am and the restaurant’s business is peaking. There is one McDonald’s for every 18,000 people in Santa Fe proper. Right now, senior citizens, day laborers, suited businessmen and young parents fill tables and gossip over cups of coffee and McDonald’s’ new breakfast platters, which look like airplane meals, but in a kitschy kind of way. A man in his mid-60s, wearing a safari hat patched with duct tape, tattered trousers and a very blingy Star of David at the end of a long silver chain, explains to the cashier he wants egg and cheese on a McMuffin (“No bacon, no ham!”). Outside on the patio, the perfect drifter—Army camouflage shirt, a ducktail streaked with grey and a stack of bedrolls tidier than any sheet on my bed at home—rolls his own cigarette after finishing a newish pancake sandwich know as the McGriddle.

The interior could pass as a college town cocktail lounge, with dim lava-lamp-style lights hanging over booths upholstered with actual fabric. Dark wood panels, with a retro pattern of ovals carved out, separate and somewhat soundproof the sections. It also has Wifi.

According to news archives, this McDonald’s was the first to open in Santa Fe, in 1972, although it was razed and rebuilt in 2005. The Zamora family bought the Santa Fe franchise, which had grown to three restaurants, in 1995 and then added a fourth. Now all of Santa Fe’s major byways are home to McDonald’s: the restaurants on St. Michael’s Drive and Airport Road are more traditional house-like structures with full playground sets, while this restaurant on Cerrillos and the other on St. Francis Drive are both adobe and feature double drive-through lanes.

As a regular patron of the drive-through, I once lodged a complaint because the manager rudely cut me off when I was chatting with the young man at the window; a week later, Vickie Zamora, wife of owner Andres Zamora, addressed my concern personally; I received, in the mail, a free gift card for a sundae.

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