Why Doesn’t Montpelier, Vermont Have a McDonald’s?

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Montpelier, the charming capital of Vermont, is known for many things: its picturesque New England setting, its vibrant arts scene, its rich history—and its notable lack of a McDonald’s. In fact, Montpelier is the only state capital in the U.S. without a McDonald’s. But why is this the case? The answer lies in a combination of factors, from the city’s small population and local legislation to its preference for local businesses over large chains.


Montpelier, Vermont, doesn’t have a McDonald’s due to its small population size, local legislation and city planning rules, and a strong preference for local businesses over large chains. The city’s regulations make it challenging for large fast-food chains to establish a presence, and the residents’ favoritism towards local businesses and unique culinary experiences contribute to the absence of McDonald’s.

Small Population

With a population of just around 7,500 residents, Montpelier is the smallest state capital in the U.S. in terms of population. This small population size contributes to the absence of fast food giants like McDonald’s. However, Montpelier isn’t entirely devoid of fast food options. The city is home to several fast-food restaurants, including Buddy’s Famous Burgers, Subway, and KFC. Yet, if you’re craving a Big Mac or a Happy Meal, you’ll have to venture a few miles away to the neighboring city of Barre.

Local Legislation and City Planning Rules

Montpelier’s local legislation and city planning rules also play a role in the absence of a McDonald’s. According to the city’s Code of Ordinances, fast-food and drive-through restaurants must adhere to certain regulations. These include maintaining a set distance from residential areas and minimizing noise pollution. Such regulations make it more challenging for large fast-food chains to establish a presence in the city.

Preference for Local Businesses

Perhaps the most significant factor in Montpelier’s lack of a McDonald’s is the city’s strong preference for local businesses. Montpelier’s residents appreciate the small-town feel and the connections between customers and staff at local restaurants. The focus on local businesses and the absence of fast food chains like McDonald’s suggest a local sentiment that favors community connections and unique culinary experiences over the convenience and uniformity of large chains.

Comparison with Similar-Sized Cities

While Montpelier is unique in being the only state capital without a McDonald’s, it’s worth noting that its situation isn’t entirely unheard of in other similar-sized cities in the U.S. Many small towns and cities prioritize local businesses and resist the encroachment of large chains. However, Montpelier’s status as a state capital and its strong community focus make its lack of a McDonald’s particularly noteworthy.

The Future of Fast Food Chains in Montpelier

As of now, there are no plans for McDonald’s or any other large fast-food chains to open in Montpelier. This is likely due to the city’s continued preference for local businesses, its small population size, and its local legislation. Instead, Montpelier continues to foster a vibrant local food scene, with a variety of restaurants offering everything from Vermont comfort food to international cuisine.


In a world where McDonald’s and other fast food chains seem to be ubiquitous, Montpelier, Vermont stands out for its lack of these global giants. Whether you see this as a refreshing break from the norm or a frustrating inconvenience, it’s clear that Montpelier’s unique approach to food and business is a significant part of its charm. And while you won’t find a McDonald’s within the city limits, you’re sure to find plenty of delicious and locally-sourced food options to satisfy your cravings.

In the end, Montpelier’s lack of a McDonald’s is a testament to the city’s commitment to local businesses, its unique character, and the values of its residents. It’s a reminder that even in our globalized world, local culture and community can still hold strong.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some local restaurants in Montpelier that I can try?

Some popular local restaurants in Montpelier include The Skinny Pancake, offering a variety of crepes and local fare; Three Penny Taproom, known for its craft beers and gastropub menu; and Sarducci’s, an Italian restaurant located by the Winooski River.

Are there any other major fast food chains in Montpelier?

Yes, there are a few other fast food chains in Montpelier. These include Subway and KFC. However, the city is largely dominated by local and independent restaurants.

How far is the nearest McDonald’s from Montpelier?

The nearest McDonald’s from Montpelier is in the neighboring city of Barre, which is approximately 6 miles away.

Does Montpelier have any drive-through restaurants?

Montpelier does have some drive-through options, but they are limited due to city regulations. Fast food restaurants with drive-through services must maintain a certain distance from residential areas and minimize noise pollution.

Is Montpelier’s approach to local businesses common in Vermont?

Yes, the preference for local businesses over large chains is a common theme throughout Vermont. The state is known for its strong support of local businesses, farmers’ markets, and farm-to-table dining.

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