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September 16, 2014

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Viva McDonald’s caters to visitors

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Leila Navidi

The new Viva McDonald’s restaurant will open its doors at 2896 S. Las Vegas Boulevard on Dec. 11.

  • What: New “Viva McDonald’s” location featuring four large video screens outside, a 14-TV “media ring” inside, and wireless internet.
  • Where: 2896 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, across from the Riviera.
  • When: Grand opening on Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., open 24/7.
  • Online: www.mcdonalds.com/usa/

Las Vegas got a taste of Nevada’s newest, biggest and most technologically-savvy McDonald’s restaurant on Tuesday.

Both of the new 8,600-square foot restaurant’s state-of-the-art kitchens were operating at full strength Tuesday night, churning out Big Macs and crispy chicken sandwiches by the dozen. Order after order of the chain’s famous French fries were dished out, too, all deep-fried and seasoned to crispy, greasy, salty perfection.

Yet audiences previewing the new Viva McDonald’s on Las Vegas Boulevard were also given food supplied from an off-site caterer — and drinks from a bar that served red and white wine, bottled beer and a martini created especially for the event.

So-called “vivatinis” weren’t served in the chain’s standard red and white plastic cups and came without the signature yellow straw; they came in martini glasses rimmed with yellow sugar.

Viva McDonald’s, which faces the Riviera and was built next door to another 25-year-old and the soon-to-be-shuttered McDonald’s location, will not be licensed to serve alcohol when it opens on Dec. 11.

The restaurant therefore will not be able to sell the beer, wine or libations that flowed so freely on Tuesday night.

It won’t be serving a lot of the food that was showcased, either, as a variety of not-so-fast food was brought in for the ravenous supper-hour crowd.

Dinnertime selections on Tuesday included roast beef with gravy, pasta and meatballs, and a variety of roasted vegetables, cheeses and fresh fruit.

The soda fountain wasn't functioning so previewing audiences had limited options when it came to washing down their caterer-provided chicken penne alfredo with something other than beer, wine or booze: milkshakes, coffee, or bottled water.

As crowds mixed and mingled to the sounds of an Elvis impersonator, trays of baby mozzarella, basil and cherry tomato skewers, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, shrimp salad-topped cucumber slices, and beef empanadas were passed.

For dessert, besides McDonaldland cookies, McFlurries and baked apple pies, patrons were also treated to chocolate-dipped strawberries, lemon bars, and chocolate cups filled with fruit or chocolate mousse.

It’s sort of funny whenever a restaurant serves another establishment’s food — but when McDonald’s chooses to provide alternate entrées and gourmet-inspired hors d’oeuvres, it really says something.

Something like, “We know our food isn’t that good, so try this instead,” or, “Here, you’ll probably enjoy this a lot more than a Fillet-O-Fish.”

Of course none of the McDonald’s executives on hand on Tuesday night were saying anything along those lines. Most were too busy giving tours of the shiny new kitchens or showcasing the main dining lobby’s “media center” (read: a ring of televisions displaying weather information and a string of short-format documentaries from the likes of Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel that were specially-produced for McD’s).

Even more interesting than the alternative food choices, however, was the fact that much of the crowd turned their noses up at the more upscale offerings.

While Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, “Super Size Me,” disgusted the nation four years ago, the lasting effects may not be as extreme.

As many people lined up for Big Macs and McNuggets as they did for roast beef; they chose processed cheddar on all-beef patties over brie and blue cheese; and fresh grilled vegetables were passed up for grilled chicken sandwiches.

So if Tuesday was any indication, McDonald’s classics are as popular now as ever. “Viva McDonald’s,” indeed.

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