The East Greenwich Town Council voted 4-1 Monday night in favor of granting a victualling (food serving) license with permission to operate 24 hours a day to a new McDonald's going up on New London Turnpike near the border with Coventry. Councilman Michael Kiernan was the dissenting vote.
The owner of the McDonald's franchise, Peter Crisafi, Jr., told the Council he and his family operated four other McDonald's restaurants in Rhode Island. He stressed they were locally owned stores.
"I love McDonalds, but we are a family-run business."
Crisafi argued for the round-the-clock hours. "Why 24 hours?" he said. "Times have changed. We’re dinner for a lot of people who are working at night.... We’re quick, we’re easy. We’re on their way home. Or on their break."
He outlined safety procedures the restaurant would follow and said he'd already met with East Greenwich Police Chief Tom Coyle to discuss safety.
After his presentation, two residents spoke against the 24-hour permission.
John Hughes lives at 310 Crompton Road, not far from New London Turnpike and the new store. He said he was worried about his property values and about lingering fast food smells.
"I don’t think any of you would like to have a 24-hour McDonalds in your neighborhood," he said.
Renu Englehart said she was worried about the precedent a 24-hour eatery set in East Greenwich, noting that no other restaurant in EG was allowed to stay open 24 hours.
Crisafi said the fried foods smell comes from dirty oil and his restaurants don't have that problem.
"We filter our oil daily," he said. "That alone will eliminate that smell. With our equipment, you won’t smell any."
Town Solicitor Peter Clarkin told the Council the 24-hour permission could be revisited if problems arose. That seemed to satisfy everyone but Kiernan, who voted no.
"I'm opposed to the extended hours on two fronts," said Kiernan via email after the meeting. "First, it sets a bad precedent to assume that we have to extend business hours to 24 hours per day when we have businesses in town that can and will survive by staying open in the normal course of business hours. Second, the Mc Donald's restaurant that applied for extended hours backs up to a residential neighborhood. People in that neighborhood are opposed to that kind of expansion for good reason. I think that they deserve a voice and need a break from that kind of interference in their lives."
According to Crisafi, the restaurant should be open by the end of October.