By Kerlern Rae Tuitt
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) announced a truce to an ongoing seating dispute between a group of Korean senior citizens and a Flushing McDonald’s Monday.
The elders would linger in the fast-food restaurant, at Northern and Parsons boulevards, for hours after paying for only a cup of coffee and french fries. This created a problem for other customers in need of a place to eat their meals, and workers called police in to ask the elders to leave.
The McDonald’s had become a place for the seniors to socialize, and they refused to give up their seats.
“We need to create more places where they can go and spend time with their peers and feel a sense of independence and ownership,” Executive Director of Korean Community Services Linda Lee said.
Kim met with both the restaurant owner and some of the seniors to work out a solution that would accommodate the business and community. The conflict is a reflection of a lack of social options for low-income seniors in the area and cultural differences, Kim said.
“With an increasing immigrant senior community, our communities need more resources and funding to support overcrowded senior and community centers,” the Korean-born assemblyman said.
As part of the agreement, seating hours for the seniors will be extended except during high-traffic times between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Signs will be posted in both Chinese and Korean to explain the schedule and a collaboration with senior centers will provide transportation to and from the McDonald’s.
Kim also arranged for any further disputes to be resolved through his office instead of the police.
“We just needed a place to sip our coffee and connect with our friends. I’m glad that we resolved this and McDonald’s agreed to listen to our concerns,” senior Sang-Yong Park said.