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The McDonalds on the main street of Dunedin is scoring another first - this time in cyberspace.

The McDonalds on the main street of Dunedin is scoring another first – this time in cyberspace.

Just a year after being the first McDonalds in New Zealand to launch the McCafe concept, it’s the first in Australasia to launch a cybercafe.

The opening is scheduled for tomorrow, to coincide with the launch of a McDonalds New Zealand website.

The cybercafe idea came from the owner-operator of the Dunedin operation, Peter Shepherd, who used cybercafes while travelling overseas 15 months ago.

“I found emailing very, very handy, especially going through countries like Turkey. I decided that since it was so good for me I’d bring it back here.”

He says the cybercafe is aimed at all age-groups and he hopes it will help make McDonalds “cool” again for younger people who have grown out of the playgrounds and parties.

Unusually for a cybercafe, six of the 13 PCs include Word and Excel. This will mean people such as students, for example, will be able to bring in floppy disks, use the programs and then print their work off.

The cybercafe will charge $6 an hour and $5, $10 and $20 cards will be sold. If people spend $6 on food at McDonalds or McCafe they will get a bonus card of $2.

Shepherd says the cybercafe is fully supervised so parents don’t need to worry about their children going to inappropriate sites.

And what if you spill your cappuccino while you’re surfing?

“No need to panic,” says Shepherd. “I have spare keyboards – it is a cost but it’s nothing major.”

While there are 13 JDI PCs at present, there is room for up to 20. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu’s Adrian Cross, who was the project manager for the implementation, says the cybercafe has a 128k Walker Wireless link, while Ezysurf provides the hosting and E-phone the security.

If the cybercafe turns out to be successful, it will be introduced to other parts of New Zealand and to Australia. “We’re watching it with keen interest and will just see what the impact is,” says Shepherd.

The McCafe that Shepherd launched in Dunedin just over a year ago has already spread to 10 other sites in New Zealand.

Shepherd is proud of its success and is hopeful of another winner with the cybercafe.

“I like to have a go at these things and move on with the times. You get a bit stale if you sit still too long.”

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