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Food, folks and fun is McOlympics motto

It's difficult to go anywhere in the world without seeing McDonald's golden arches, Chicken McNuggets and super-size fries.

And this Japanese city is no different. McDonald's restaurants are plentiful.Couple that everyday presence with the 1998 Winter Games, for which McDonald's Corp. is a worldwide Top Sponsor, and you have a lot of Big Macs. As a Top Sponsor, McDonald's is feeding athletes in the Athletes Village for free (that's 27,494 burgers, 11,048 orders of fries and 13,248 servings of Chicken McNuggets), the media in the Main Press Center ($5 for a Big Mac, fries and drink) and a whole lot of people elsewhere around town.

All those burgers and fries have caught the attention of Mark A. Young and Clark Stringham, two Utah McDonald's franchise owners, who spent four days here gleaning ideas of what they can do during Salt Lake's 2002 Games.

What's the bottom-line best news for Utah: Expect no price gouging during the Games.

"Japan has chosen to not raise prices," Stringham told the Deseret News. "I think you'll see that same kind of commitment in Salt Lake City."

"You have the world coming. You need to keep that value," echoed Young.

What else can Utah expect? How about international crews? Japan McDonald's started an all-star crew program in which McDonald's employees countrywide could qualify to staff Olympic venue restaurants.

"We may want to tweak that idea a little so that we can have international all-star crews working in Utah. You may have workers from Russia, England or New York City come and work in our venues in Utah," Young said.

"The workers here in Japan are pretty excited to be serving the athletes," Stringham said.

Young and Stringham are two of the 25 Utah McDonald's owners whose restaurants total 86 throughout the state.

A big part of the Games, Young said, is simply to have fun.

"Or employee motto is food, folks and fun.' We want to have fun when the Games come to Utah."

Part of that fun for them will be capitalizing on the marketing potential of the Games. While they don't yet know what form that will take, the two say it'll likely involve toys, hats, watches and, of course, the ubiquitous Olympic pins.

"We're working hand in glove with McDonald's Corp. on this. We're the dumb kids on the block. We need their expertise," Stringham said.

"When you look at it," Young said, "McDonald's is more than a restaurant. It's a brand. We're a big part of everyone's lives and we're a big part of the Olympics."