louis martin
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Fort Bragg, California--

For 286 miles along the North Coast of California--from San Francisco to Eureka--there is not a single McDonald's restaurant in operation. Some residents of the North Coast are proud of that record, while others could care less. Whatever one's view--opposed, indifferent, or even in favor--the record will change on Thursday. After 5 and a half years of planning, and 2 and a half years of public opposition, the American fast-food institution will open its doors in Fort Bragg.

Raymond Costa, who owns the franchise, is a little nervous about it. That's because the debate went all the way to the Supreme Court. There the matter was settled some two months ago in favor of McDonald's.

Construction began about a month ago, and now it's finished. The arches are in place, and the final touches are being put on the landscaping.

Costa, who seems a little gun-shy from all the opposition, insisted, ``McDonald's Corporation isn't here; it's a locally owned business.'' All he's done is bought the name, he said.

As construction workers go in and out the side door of the kitchen, Costa said 50 restaurant workers have been hired already. He is hoping to hire 20 more. Inside the pale blue building with a lawn out front, young people sit at tables with clip boards filling out applications.

The restaurant was due to open on Tuesday, but because of last minute hitches, it will open Thursday instead. It will be the basic McDonald's hamburger-and-french-fry bill of fair plus soup. Said Costa, ``Soup's kind of a specialty item; not a lot of McDonald's restaurants have it.''

Costa said he and McDonald's tried to make the building fit the area. It's located in what city planners call the ``scenic corridor'' to the town. Said Costa, pointing to the golden arches on a low street sign on Highway 1, ``That is the biggest arch right there.'' The sign is about 4 feet tall--modest by fast-food restaurant proportions.

Bill Kilroy, a field service manager with McDonald's, was up in Fort Bragg on Tuesday working on last minute details in the kitchen. Said Kilroy, a large man in a maroon sweater, "We're happy to be here in Fort Bragg.'' There have been rumors about a possible protest when the restaurant opens. A group called Friends of Fort Bragg has opposed it from the beginning. But said Kilroy, ``I wouldn't have any idea about anything but good things happening here.''

The restaurant will be open 7 days a week, from 6 AM to 11PM.



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