Irish Times

14th Dec 1996; Ireland

IT was a double decker sort of week for the giant McDonald's Corporation. Customers "grabbing a bite to eat" will require particular dexterity at one of its latest fast food outlets, which opened this week at the Swedish ski resort of Lindvallen, northwest of Stockholm. The new #1m outlet, appropriately named McSki, is claimed to be the world's first "ski through" restaurant.

Apparently skiers slide under the golden arches, border hamburgers, French fries and milk shakes through a special window and ski off, munching as they go, a manoeuvre which will test the reflexes of even the most competent performers on the piste. Lindvallen is the sole listed ski resort on the Stockholm stock exchange.

The fun and games in prosperous Sweden gave way to conflict later in the week at the official opening of the first McDonald's outlet in the politically troubled former Soviet republic of Belarus. A pair of skis and physical adroitness would have been useful to escape the fracas which arose in the centre of the capital Minsk as McDonald's celebrated a new opening in a 100th country.

Amid rumours that free food was on offer a crowd of around 4,000 mostly young people jostled outside Big Mac's doors. Police eventually moved in, allegedly beating onlookers with truncheons in a struggle which lasted for over an hour. Belarus is struggling for foreign investment and an official described the arrival of McDonald's as a " kind of indicator of western investment ". A Big Mac costs the equivalent of 60p in Belarus, a country where the average monthly wage is around #30. Worldwide McDonald's has more that 19,200 outlets in 100 countries.

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