Marilyn Hagerty, a sweet old grandmotherly lady from Grand Forks, North Dakota, rose to internet fame a few years back when her glowing review of a new Olive Garden for the Grand Forks Herald went viral. Just to provide a nice little update, Marilyn is kicking it alive and well and still covering the Eat Beat for the Herald. In her latest column, Hagerty expresses concern for the future of McDonald’s, as high faultin’ big city publications such as the Wall Street Journal and USA Today are signaling doom and gloom for the burger chain.
Well, Marilyn Hagerty will have you know that McDonald’s is doing JUST FINE, because in the past couple of weeks she’s visited all of the McDonald’s locations in the greater Grand Forks area and has filed a full report. And they say investigative journalism is dead.*
*No one says that. Via the Grand Forks Herald:
My first visit was to McDonald’s on S. Washington Street, where I ordered a senior coffee for 47 cents one morning. And with it I had a sausage egg McMuffin. That was $2.99 and a whopping 370 calories. You know you have eaten, and I like the combination. The coffee, which is McDonald’s brand, was strong and not too hot.
The weather was biting cold on another day. I decided to go into the McDonald’s near Columbia Mall — a busy place where the line at the drive-up window often is longer than the smattering of people inside. Still, this place is open all night so that customers can drift in before going to bed.
“Before going to bed.” And definitely not in a state of inebriation. Aww, Marilyn Hagerty so naive.
My trail through the McDonald’s restaurants took me to East Grand Forks, where I ordered a medium-sized low-fat latte. I got quick service and paid $3.18. I collect the little cards that come on the lattes in order to get a free one after the fifth purchase.
The lattes cost less than those I enjoy at Starbucks. But they are worthy. The only problem is occasionally, one of the restaurants will tell you their machine is not working.
“Not working?” I think. I almost foam at the mouth in disgust, but I try to be pleasant.
Note: You do NOT f*ck with Marilyn Hagerty’s latte.
My visit to the McDonald’s near Columbia Mall is where I enjoyed my secret sin — a big Mac for $4.39. Something I do once every couple of years. But they help to fill up active, working people. They almost overwhelm lethargic people like me.
With her husband, Mike, Cindy O’Keefe owns and operates the McDonald’s restaurants near Columbia Mall and in East Grand Forks and Crookston. Over the years, she has seen the menu go more upscale with frappes and more healthful with salads. Instead of the fries that used to be standard for children, there is a choice of apple slices, little oranges and yogurt.
THANKS, MICHELLE OBAMA.
And there is fun. This month, McDonalds has a promotion where customers can get an order of nuggets for the price of the temperature here at noon on the day before. That is, if they buy a sandwich.
On a recent day with the noon temperature at zero the day before, the nuggets were free. I watched three young people carefully order the sandwich and free nuggets. And it’s hard to believe, but they also had cola drinks for breakfast. Nearby, I watched a workman come in and enjoy the same for a mid-morning meal.
See now, I drink Coke Zero for breakfast all the time. Marilyn Hagerty probably would think I was human garbage if she ever met me. She’s not wrong.
This was at the fourth McDonald’s, located on Gateway Drive. It is owned by Mike’s brother, Bill O’Keefe, who also owns the restaurants on South Washington and in Thief River Falls. It is the newest and perhaps most attractive McDonald’s here. It seems spacious with a variety of seating arrangements that provide pseudo privacy.
This is a friendly place in the morning with people trickling in and out. There are newspapers around. And like all McDonald’s restaurants, the place is wired for computers.
TL;DR, the McDonald’s of Grand Forks, North Dakota are doing great.