Mickey D's Is Out at Parkland Hospital

Healthier menu one reason for move to new restaurant.

By Eric Kreindler
|  Tuesday, Aug 4, 2009  |  Updated 1:00 PM CDT
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Mickey D's Is Out at Parkland Hospital

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No more Big Mac's and fries as Parkland decides to replace McDonald's.

McDonald's is out and UFood is in at Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital.

A selection committee guided the Parkland board as the panel voted to replace the McDonald's restaurant with a new place according to Dallasnews.com.

Three companies, including McDonald's bid for the contract, but Puente-Brancato Enterprises Inc., the Fort Worth-based franchisee for UFood Restaurant Group Inc. of Boston won.

UFood has a menu of grilled foods, organic greens and pro-biotic smoothies.

"Parkland was a huge, exciting win for us," said Gina Puente-Brancato, who owns the company with her husband, John Brancato. "We have a lot of work to do to get name recognition."

McDonald's is expected to turn off its fryers Aug. 15. Mickey D's operated at Parkland since 1989. UFood Grill and a sister operation, a franchised outlet of Dallas-based Urban Taco, are expected to open by Dec. 1.

Clifton Johnson, the Parkland McDonald's franchisee, declined to answer questions to reporter Karen Robinson-Jacobs but e-mailed a statement:

"The McDonald's at Parkland offers a variety of great-tasting, quality food choices in a number of serving sizes to fit many nutritional needs. We have enjoyed the two-decade-long relationship we have had with Parkland Hospital and the Dallas community, and feel that it has been mutually beneficial to both parties."

Ron Anderson, Parkland's chief executive, said he had gotten pressure "from day one" about the McDonald's menu, though the restaurant did try to adjust.

"They had a soy burger at one time," he recalled. "They created soups and salads. They did a lot ... to appeal to the hospital industry."

While nutrition counted for 25 of the possible 100 points in the selection scheme for the next Parkland restaurant, the financial return to Parkland counted for 30.

The restaurants pay rent – there's 7,000-plus square feet of space – and a percentage of sales to the hospital.

"When it came to the variety and nutrition and return to Parkland, Puente-Brancato was No. 1," Haupert said.

Puente-Brancato said she's looking forward to her hospital stay and may look at other hospitals in the future.

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