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The “Sex and the City” McDonalds

Jul 13th, 2016 | By | Category: Sex and the City Filming Locations

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Today’s location is a bit of a fail and a lucky twist all in one.  My mom always says to trust in the universe – and she’s right.  Things happen for a reason.  This locale – easily one of my most-wanted ever – is proof of that.  I am a pretty simple girl when it comes to most things, especially food.  I’ll take McDonald’s over a fancy restaurant any day.  So when Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov) and Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) dined at an NYC Golden Arches outpost in the Season 6 episode of Sex and the City titled “The Ick Factor,” I practically swooned – and vowed to stalk the place someday.  The road to tracking it down was fraught with quite a few twists and turns, though, and even involved stalking an incorrect location (pictured above).

In “The Ick Factor,” Carrie becomes overwhelmed by Petrovsky’s many extravagant romantic gestures.  One night, after he recites a Joseph Brodsky poem to her, she asks if she can read him her kind of poetry and then shares a passage from Vogue about a sleeveless hot pink Oscar de la Renta dress.

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The next time the two see each other, Alek has a surprise for Carrie – tickets to a Metropolitan Opera opening . . . and the sleeveless hot pink Oscar de la Renta dress.  Now, while Met tickets would leave me fairly cold, any guy who bought me a designer dress for no reason at all would be A-OK in my book.

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All does not go as planned for the couple, though, as a funny thing happens on the way to the opera.  While walking through the courtyard of Lincoln Center, Alek asks Carrie to dance . . .

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. . . and she proceeds to faint.  When she comes to, she tells him, “It’s too much.  I’m an American.  Ya gotta take it down a notch.”

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So the two forgo the opera and instead head to McDonald’s for a meal of Chicken McNuggets, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and Supersize fries.  Mickey D’s in a designer dress?  Now that’s my kind of date!

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While standing at the counter awaiting their order, Carrie gets swept up in the romance of it all and tells Petrovsky that she is finally ready for that dance.  As I said, swoon!  The moment was, hands down, one of my favorite scenes of the series and I wanted nothing more than to dance in the same spot Carrie did – while wearing a designer dress, of course.

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Try as I might, though, I just could never seem to find that McDonald’s.  Enter my friend Owen, from the When Write Is Wrong blog, who I mentioned my query to in 2010.  Per usual, he went above and beyond to help me, even going so far as to contact the NYC Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting.  A very kind woman there told Owen that while she was unsure of which McDonald’s was used in the production, he was welcome to come in and go through the permits.  Owen made an appointment to do so, but a few days later he heard from the woman once again.  As fate would have it, she had found the information we were seeking on, of all places, HBO’s official Sex and the City website!  Now I had visited that website many times, especially its filming locations section, but had stopped doing so once I purchased Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell in 2004, as the book has all of the same location information chronicled.  What I didn’t realize what that the HBO website updated its locations page at some point, adding “The Ick Factor” McDonald’s.  D’oh!  As you can see below, according to HBO, the Sex and the City Mickey D’s (Location #14) is said to be at 57th and 6th.  (The actual address, which Owen later dug up, is 45 West 57th Street in Midtown West.)

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Upon relaying the information, Owen also notified me of the bad news that the eatery had been shuttered in 2007, which meant no dancing on the premises in a designer dress for me!  During its tenure at 45 West 57th, McDonald’s leased all three floors of the 8,500-square-foot spot (paying a whopping $800,000 a year to do so!).  When the burger chain vacated the site, it was gutted and divided into three different units.  The bottom floor was taken over by an organic café named Danku.  Prior to opening, the space underwent an extensive $1-million renovation.  Danku did not last long, though.  By January 2010, it, too, had closed its doors and a fresh&co outpost eventually moved in.  Despite the heavy alterations and numerous changes in tenancy, because it was a location that meant so much to me, I added the address to my NYC To-Stalk List and was beyond excited to finally see it in person this past April.

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At the time that Owen notified me of his find, I had no imminent plans to head to New York and was also knee-deep in the middle of wedding planning, so I took HBO at its word and did no further investigating.  It was not until I sat down to write this post early last week that things started to go awry.  While doing research on the 57th Street McDonald’s, I came across some images of what the interior and exterior looked like shortly after Mickey D’s moved out and very quickly realized it was not the right spot.  The most glaring tell was the fact that the 57th Street space featured a large floor-to-ceiling window on its western side (as you can see here).  That window is still intact and is pictured in my photograph below.  Such a window would have been visible behind Carrie in “The Ick Factor” (in the area noted with a pink rectangle), but, as you can see, that is not the case.

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The flooring and tile work behind the counter (both of which you can see in this image), doors (which you can see here) and window casings (which you can see here) at the 57th Street McDonald’s were also vastly different from what appeared on Sex and the City.  Not to mention, the 57th Street site boasted a large stairwell near its entrance (you can see it here and here).  Those stairs should have been visible on SATC in the area denoted with a pink rectangle below, but were not.  No doubt about it, HBO listed the wrong location on its site.

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Feeling elated over the fact that the right McDonald’s might still possibly be in operation, I immediately headed on over to Google and pulled up a listing for every single outpost located on the island of Manhattan.  I spent countless hours on Street View looking for one with front doors and window casings that matched what appeared in “The Ick Factor,” but came up empty-handed.  Then the following day, in a very fortuitous turn, I decided to write about Terry’s (Whoopi Goldberg) apartment from Jumpin’ Jack Flash.  In the post, I mentioned an old NYC eatery named La Tablita.  While researching that restaurant, I came across this West Side Rag article and immediately froze when I saw the top image.  It was of a recently-shuttered McDonald’s, said to be at 81st and Broadway, that had the exact doors and windows I had been looking for.

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  I quickly ascertained that the address of the McDonald’s was 2271 Broadway and started searching for interior photos of it.  I found several on Foursquare and what they showed matched the SATC McDonald’s perfectly!  As you can see below, the tiling of the front of the counter (pink arrows), the tiling of the wall behind it (turquoise arrows), and the flooring (blue arrows) all correlate to what appeared in “The Ick Factor.”

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The doors (turquoise arrows) and window (green arrows) were also a perfect match, as was the triangular mirrored panel (pink arrows) visible behind Carrie in the scene.

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I was most excited to see that the half wall located next to the front counter was the spitting image of the one from “The Ick Factor.”

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So there you have it, the long complicated story of the Sex and the City McDonald’s.  Though I am saddened that the restaurant is closed, I am thrilled that it has now at least been found – and in such a fortuitous way.  Had I not attempted to write about the 57th Street outpost the day before blogging about the Jumpin’ Jack Flash apartment, I would have come across that West Side Rag image and thought nothing of it – and the correct McDonald’s might never have been located!  As my mom always says, things happen for a reason.  Though Owen does believe that HBO owes me an apology and I tend to agree.  So HBO?  I’m waiting.

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For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The McDonald’s featured in “The Ick Factor” episode of Sex and the City was formerly located at 2271 Broadway on New York’s Upper West Side.

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4 comments

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  1. Ashley L. says:

    My favorite posts are the ones where you take wrong information and correct it, ESPECIALLY when it involves some master sleuthing! Love it!

  2. Katie Sawyer says:

    WOW, Linds, this is a masterpiece of stalking. Such evidence and proof, you should send this link straight to HBO and have them update their info with a post to your site! 😀

  3. Mike says:

    I love you linds! This is insane, but I love you. Arrows and all! 🙂

  4. Richard Y says:

    A VERY exciting find and glad that you took the time to dig it out. I have often found in my research that what is listed on so-called official sources and even published in books are frequently wrong. So satisfying do be able to discover the correct filming location. Good job.


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