A campus icon: Students mourn the loss of Dinkytown McDonald’s

Developers will clear the popular University landmark to prepare for construction.


Parker Johnson

Rachel Selly, Amanda Holscher, and Maddy Personius pose for portraits on Monday, Jan. 18 outside the former Dinkytown McDonalds that closed January 9th. Selly discusses her thoughts on the closure, “This year has done a toll on Dinkytown and it will never look the same without those arches.”

Lydia Morrell

Say goodbye to the golden arches of Dinkytown’s skyline. The University of Minnesota landmark went dark last month.

After 57 years as a popular student destination in Dinkytown, McDonald’s closed down in preparation for a new development. Though the fast-food giant will reopen a Dinkytown location after construction, students took to social media to mourn the closing of a University icon and reflect on the memories.

Fourth-year University of Minnesota student Rachel Selly reminisced on her many times spent in the ordering line.

“My roommate and I would always ask people, ‘Oh, what’s your breakfast order?’ and ours is always the same — a sausage, egg and cheese McMuffin with a chocolate milkshake,” Selly said. “My roommate and I know each others’ like the back of our hands.”

McDonald’s plastered signs around the building Dec. 14 to abruptly announce the closure. CA Ventures, the developer that bought the land under McDonald’s and Dinkytown Wine & Spirits, caused multiple closures in preparation for construction. While McDonald’s will reopen, other businesses — such as Dinkytown Wine & Spirits — closed for good.

Word of the closure quickly spread over social media as students shared the news. The Daily’s Facebook post saw more than 2,300 shares and about a thousand comments.

One social media commenter simply responded, “Oh nooooo” to the shuttering. Another responded, “noooo, why?!? No more soggy fries!” Others gave deeper accounts of their experiences, with some recalling having childhood birthdays there or visiting with their parents. One student suggested a candlelight vigil for the restaurant. Another commenter said, “I still laugh about asking security if they went to hamburgler university.”

Many were more cynical about another high-rise student-housing complex encroaching on the neighborhood.

Selly said she found out about the closure via Instagram, and proceeded to post many of the pictures and videos that she had made at the restaurant.

“Well, I had to do my own little tribute,” Selly said. “Gather all of my memories, all of my things and show people what’s going on.”

Selly said that she was upset and surprised when she saw news of the closure.

“This was somewhere that [many University students] went to or really cared about and it wasn’t even that it was McDonald’s,” Selly said. “It was more like the memories that we made there together.”

The restaurant, affectionately dubbed “Drunk Don’s” by many students, held a status as a hangout spot before and after parties, said third-year student Mattea Schubert.

“It was definitely the agreed-upon place to go when you went to a party or something,” Schubert said.

Fourth-year student Amanda Holscher said she went to McDonald’s with her roommates on the last night it was open to reminisce and say goodbyes.

Holscher said she will probably move away from the Dinkytown area after graduation, so she will not come to the new location. She added that even her mom — who grew up in the area — was sad about the news, which made the impact of Dinkytown McDonald’s long legacy clear to her.

“I feel like a lot of things around Dinkytown are changing and turning into like apartment buildings and not quite as historic as they used to be,” Holscher said. “So it’s kind of like seeing it change right before your eyes because I remember my mom heard about it.”