McDonald’s can be found in almost every major city in the world. Sure, there are some non-standard franchises like the barbed wired building in Guantanamo Bay or the UFO-themed one Roswell, but did you know there is actually a stranger version of the restaurant floating around Canada?
In 1986, the McBarge was opened for the World Expo in Canada for the Friendship 500 project. The floating restaurant was a hit when it started, but it was then abandoned. The McBarge has been closed for 30 years but still floats around in Canada.
How Did The McBarge Start?
A branch of McDonald’s was opened on a floating restaurant in 1986. The floating restaurant was opened for the 1986 World Expo in Canada. The barge was given the name Friendship 500. In the beginning, it was a big success. The unique location and amenities truly changed the game. The floating restaurant featured real plants, hardwood floors, walls covered in fine art, and staff donned in nautical-themed clothing.
In addition to the aesthetics, the kitchens were hidden from the public view, and the food was delivered through a conveyor belt—quite a post-modern concept. Millions of people came to dine in this futuristic floating McDonald’s fondly called the McBarge. It was a tourist attraction in its own sense selling about 1,500 meals in a day. (Source: Leth Bridge News Now)
What Happend to the Friendship 500?
At the end f the World Expo, the Friendship 500 was closed down. The floating restaurant was left to mold and decay away over the years.
A real estate developer, Howard Meakin, tried to give the floating restaurant a second life. He intended to transform the building into an educational facility that focused on ocean and marine technology. The deal was made, and the Friendship 500 was towed to the Burrard Inlet, just east of the Strait of Georgia. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned, and the barge has been vandalized throughout the years.
In 2015, Meakin was asked about his plans for the barge, but he didn’t offer much information.
I’ve had a few opportunities over those 16 years and this is by far the best one coming up. I can’t go into a lot of details on it but it will come out early in 2016 in terms of what we’re doing with it. So it’s our plan to do the restoration and we have a number of communities that are excited about seeing the barge restored and there are a lot of things that are going to follow as a result of what’s happening.Howard Meakin
In 2017, people tried to gather funds to revive the structure. They intended to build the momentum through nostalgia. Unfortunately, the project was abandoned, and once again, the barge was left to nothing. By 2021, the Meakin of the barge announced his latest plans of turning it into a seafood restaurant. (Source: North Shore News)
The location that we have is going to site remediation with the Ministry of Environment and we’re waiting patiently for what they call a certificate of compliance, which is required before the sale can happen. We got really good response from them in terms of acceptance of our proposal.Howard Meakin
(Source: Surrey Now-Leader)