As Bruce Springsteen once sang, "Everything dies baby, that's a fact/but maybe everything that dies one day comes back as a Wendy's." That logic held true for the Queens Boulevard Wendy's, which has been better known to New Yorkers as McDowell's from Coming To America, Eddie Murphy's first and greatest foray into playing multiple characters on film. The building's outer facade hasn't changed much since the 1988 film, so it is with great sadness we relay the message that it will soon be demolished to make way for a $105-million, six-story structure with luxury apartments and ground-floor stores. So long to Golden Arcs and Big Micks.
In case you aren't familiar with the fantastic film, McDowell's is the Queens restaurant that Murphy's character Prince Akeem goes to work for when he's pretending to be a poor foreign student. McDowell's was restaurateur Cleo McDowell's blatant attempt to copy McDonald's, with the "Big Mac" becoming the "Big Mick" ("both contain two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions. But they use a sesame seed bun. My buns have no seeds.").
“It’s sort of a historical landmark for me,” John Amos, who played McDowell in the film, said to the Wall Street Journal. “There is an attachment to the brick and mortar, but everything crumbles in time and you have to make way for the new stuff. I guess they call it progress, and in the process we lose a lot of memories.” Louie Anderson, who played a cashier in the film, also lamented the loss: “Wow! For me, it was not so much a hamburger stand as a chance to appear in a movie that became somewhat iconic,” he said.
Anderson also tweeted about the closing after TrivWorks tried to get the name trending on Saturday. Even though the film is over two decades old, its legacy has endured in affectionate ways, including hilarious and obsessively specific reviews on Yelp. While we're very sad McDowell's is being turned into some anonymous condos, at least the neighborhood won't be terrorized by some guy that looks like Samuel L. Jackson anymore: