McDonald’s turquoise arches go viral but they were painted 20 years ago

McDonald’s iconic golden arches are known the world over, but one Arizona restaurant is causing a lot of stir for its giant M – which is colored turquoise.

There have been numerous reports over the past few days that a McDonald’s in Sedona would have been prevented from opening unless it followed stringent laws that dictate the color of buildings in the city, which has spectacular views of the desert.

McDonald's forced to open its first ever turquoise arches

But the truth is that the restaurant opened over 20 years ago, and the battle over the blue-green arches was hardly a skirmish, says Nicholas Gioello, development services manager for Sedona’s Community Development Department.

Sedona, which incorporated as a city in 1988, was still firming up its exterior building and signage restrictions a few years later when McDonald’s proposed to build a restaurant there.

At the time, Gioello said, local officials wanted all businesses to blend into the natural landscape of desert and red rock, and when McDonald's franchise owner Greg Cook approached the Community Development Department, they worked together and came up with the turquoise color.

“If they had really wanted, the city may have accepted the yellow logo,” Gioello told,

The McDonald's is located along the edge of a shopping center that had mostly teal and red signage during the mid 1990s, so the community development director at the time suggested the restaurant adopt a similar look. It took less than a year to be approved and constructed, and it opened in May 1993.

Today, the city continues to enforce specific regulations for builders to follow, including sign brightness, exterior lighting and the colors of building materials.

“We want everything to blend into the natural surroundings, which includes mostly earth tones,” Gioello said. “The view is really why people come to Sedona.”

To his knowledge, Sedona’s McDonald’s remains the only one without the company’s signature golden arches.

Calls to McDonald's corporate headquarters were not returned.

But Rhonda Grundemann, a former spokeswoman for Arizona McDonald's restaurants, confirmed to that the Sedona restaurant opened in 1993 and said that the teal arches were mandated by the city at the time the restaurant was developed. She also sent this statement from Greg Cook, the franchise owner:  “Twenty one years later, we're happy to still be a part of the Sedona community."

Gioello said he isn’t sure exactly why the turquoise arches are taking off online but he’s happy.  Over the years, the restaurant has become a local tourist attraction and he hopes the media attention will attract more visitors to the picturesque city.

“I’ve seen people get out and take pictures in front of the sign with their families.”

A quick social media search reveals dozens of poses around the cool-hued signs like this:

Now that the signs are buzzing once again, reactions on Twitter ranged from excited:

to confusion: