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Serving Booze at Fast Food Restaurants Is Trendy, Like It or Not

A Burger King in London is the latest to begin serving beer

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Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Fast food restaurants serving booze is seemingly all the rage these days: You can now order a pint with your Whopper at one London-based Burger King. The BK located at Waterloo Station, the city's busiest railway station, has been granted a liquor license, according to the Evening Standard.

The location is the first of what may be many boozy BK restaurants in the UK, as the fast food chain announced last fall that it had applied for alcohol licenses at 654 locations throughout the country. The license does come with some specific limits: The Burger King location may serve only beer under 5% alcohol by volume in a plastic cup.

"It's fast food, fast service, fast alcohol and fast drunkenness, as a result of that."

While fans of the chain's highly caloric offerings might fancy adding more empty beer calories to their meal, not everyone is pleased with the quick service/alcohol combination. The Telegraph reports that the cities of Victoria and Paddington denied licensing for Burger Kings after police spoke out on the issue.

In Westminster, police chief Bryan Lewis told the council: "It's fast food, fast service, fast alcohol and fast drunkenness, as a result of that." Lewis further pointed out that fast-food is often a go-to drunk food and serving booze to potentially already-intoxicated individuals might not be a good mix. "People consume alcohol and have a desire to eat fast food on the way home. At this point, they have had enough to drink but then they will be offered more [alcohol] at the station."

The Waterloo Station burger restaurant joins other fast food outlets around the world that are jumping on the alcohol bandwagon: Last year Taco Bell introduced a new urban cantina-style restaurant serving booze, with locations in Chicago and San Francisco.

Meanwhile, a South Korean McDonald's began selling beer last month and the fast food giant already offers the option in Germany, France, Austria, and the Netherlands. Still, McDonald's tells the Telegraph that it has no plans to launch beer in the UK. "Although a number of European McDonald's markets serve alcoholic beverages as part of their menu, this is not something that we have experienced customer demand for or something that fits with the family-friendly focus of our restaurants in the UK."

Serving alcohol could be one way for fast food chains to try and keep up with their higher-end fast-casual counterparts, which are enjoying a surge in popularity as Americans demand higher-quality food.