SOS: After man takes tumble, McDonald’s makes parking lot walkways easier to see

December 17, 2018

Brett Maki wasn’t angling for a generous monetary settlement or free food for life after he was injured in a parking lot of one of the world’s largest restaurant chains.

All he wanted the North Side Madison McDonald’s to do was to paint some yellow lines along a couple of walkways leading into the place, so that other people wouldn’t suffer the same fate he did.

Maki, 26, who has cerebral palsy and is visually impaired, uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.

Located at Northport and Dryden drives, the McDonald’s is conveniently located near the apartment Maki moved into on Aug. 18. But it also has two cement walkways that rise incrementally from level with the parking lot to a few inches above the parking lot as they reach the door.

It was while trying to navigate one of these walkways on Aug. 25 that Maki’s wheelchair tipped over the curb and he hit the parking lot, causing scrapes to his right arm. It wouldn’t have happened, he said, if the walkway’s edge had been easier to pick out — like with some bright paint.

This is what Maki said he told the restaurant’s workers, repeatedly.

“I’ve tried several times over several months,” he said, “and they haven’t done anything.” He said a woman who helps him with mobility even went into the restaurant and offered to spray-paint the curbs herself, and that restaurant employees had told him they would speak with the restaurant’s general manager.

He said that after he sent an email to McDonald’s corporate offices about the situation, he got four coupons for free meals — which he used and which were a nice gesture but didn’t solve the problem.

SOS tracked down the owner of the McDonald’s, Poynette-based DPNK, which runs a total of 51 of the fast-food outlets. “Betty” — who declined to give her last name — said she would let DPNK area supervisor “Doug” — whom “Betty” also wouldn’t provide a last name for — about Maki’s concern.

DPNK didn’t get back to SOS, but McDonald’s brand reputation manager Anne Christensen replied within hours to an email SOS sent to the restaurant chain’s press office.

That same day, yellow paint was applied to the curbs of both walkways from where they begin their ascent to where they come level with the entrance — a length of about 15 feet on one side and 10 feet on the other.

Maki said it would have been better to extend the paint all the way from the front door. But he “wasn’t expecting much more than” what they did, and he’s able to distinguish the walkway much more clearly now.

“I’m OK with this,” he said.

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