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One last look at Chicago’s infamous Rock ‘N’ Roll McDonalds

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The iconic River North tourist-magnet will soon be no more

Jay Koziarz

After serving its last customer and closing its doors on December 30, Chicago’s famous Rock ‘N’ Roll McDonald’s is biting the dust. Made famous for its kitschy 20th century decor, occasional late night brawls, and a song by Wesley Willis, the busy downtown franchise store will soon join its adjacent memorabilia pavilion as a pile of rubble.

Designed as a super-sized homage to the company’s recently torn-down ‘McDonald’s No. 1 Store Museum’ in Des Plaines, Illinois, the two-story building was completed in 2005. It replaced the “original” Rock ‘n’ Roll-themed McDonald’s that previously stood at the site.

While skyscraper enthusiasts have long salivated over the idea of the block-sized site sprouting a high-rise development similar to the nearby One Chicago Square proposal, the next building at 600 N. Clark Street—also a McDonald’s restaurant—will likely be shorter than the structure it replaces.

Jay Koziarz

The new store is expected to rise just one story and will abandon the rock ‘n’ roll theme in favor of a modern design with futuristic touches such as self-order kiosks and rooftop solar panels.

Though its owners have described the makeover as a remodel, the majority of the exiting structure—including its two-floor glass-walled dining area, 60-foot twin golden arches, and covered drive through lanes—will be completely destroyed. Only the kitchen area is expected to be reused.

The (mostly) all-new restaurant will reopen later this spring.

Jay Koziarz