Twenty-five years ago, John Landis and Eddie Murphy blessed the world with the iconic comedy Coming to America. Murphy starred as an African prince who journeyed to the U.S. in search of genuine love, which he eventually found in a not-so-hopeless place: Queens, New York. While masquerading as your Average Joe, he finds work at McDowell's, a fictional take on McDonald's. Now, the building—which was actually a Wendy's on Queens Boulevard until recently—is on the verge of destruction.
In the past few weeks, signs have been taken down and tables and chairs have been removed in preparation to transform the place into a $105 million site with luxury apartments above and stores on the ground level. This has been understandably difficult for the film's cast to swallow. "For me, it was not so much a hamburger stand as a chance to appear in a movie that became somewhat iconic," said comedian Louie Anderson, who worked the McDowell's register in the film.
Jon Amos, who played the owner of McDowell's, said he used to drive by the spot to recall “a hallmark of [his] career.” Over time, McDowell's became a pop culture phenomenon, even warranting it's own Yelp page and inspiring plenty of merchandise. Though it feels like a piece of popular culture history is being ripped away from us, McDowell's will live on forever.