SOUTH CHICAGO — R.I.P. Skyway McDonald's.
If you live in Chicago — or have ever passed through — you probably know all about the Skyway McDonald's.
The oddly-placed restaurant — dropped smack dab in the middle of busy Chicago Skyway lanes — for decades has served as an oasis for travelers, particularly those with starving, screaming children and other passengers who really, really have to go.
Well, you won't be able to say "There's always the Skyway McDonald's" anymore.
The oft-criticized but always available McDonald's has shut down. It's now boarded up and its drive-through sign is stripped.
Turns out, although people loved it for its available bathrooms, sales weren't so hot.
Avis LaVelle, a spokeswoman for Chicago Skyway Concession LLC, the company that has owned and operated the Skyway since the city privatized it in 2004, said the owner of the franchise has terminated its lease with the Skyway, citing a drop in sales.
She said the restaurant grossed under $1.3 million in the past 12 months. On average, McDonald's locations bring in $2.5 million, Forbes reports.
The owner notified the Skyway of it's plan to surrender the property in April, and formally turned it over July 6 — although it appears the restaurant closed before then.
LaVelle says the Skyway is considering new vendors for the spot but she did not give a timeline for replacing the McDonald's.
Messages to the franchisee and McDonald's corporate headquarters were not immediately returned.
One of Chicago's strangest pitstops, the McDonald's sits above the South Chicago neighborhood at 8871 S. Kingston Ave. It's squarely between cars gunning the accelerator after paying the Skyway toll to head south to Indiana and Michigan, and people slamming on the brakes to pay the toll to go north into Chicago on I-90.
Anyone who's ever stopped there to use the washrooms — or even eat — knows that re-entering the Skyway is more than half the battle.
Several confused motorists pulled into the parking lot Friday morning, peering at the shuttered building before pulling back on to the highway. A businessman in an Audi convertible jumped out of his car, telling a reporter he was on his way to a meeting and had only stopped to use the bathroom. He then left, in search of other options.
While a spokeswoman for the concessionaire warned that the next tenant of the former McDonald's might not be a restaurant, we have a few suggestions of local gems we'd like to see move into the Skyway spot. Cast your vote here for your favorite in totally hypothetical wish list:
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