(WASHINGTON) - The Washington McDonald's restaurant will close Friday for roughly 80 days, but according to owner Wally Nowakowski, a new McDonald's being built in its place during that time will be worth the wait.
Andrea McCann of the Washington Times Herald says demolition began Monday and if everything goes as planned and there are no weather or materials delays, by early September a more contemporary and convenient McDonald's will grace East National Highway. Even the parking lot will be new.
Nowakowski, who owns McDonald's restaurants in Vincennes, Petersburg and Bicknell, as well as Olney and Robinson, Ill., with his wife, Deb, said the older stores are ready for rebuilding or renovation and they're addressing them one at a time. The Washington restaurant was built in 1980 and needed upgrades, he said.
"Some of these buildings built 30 or 40 years ago don't come close to meeting ADA requirements anymore, even the parking lots," he said.
In addition, Nowakowski said they want to make the stores more efficient and more appealing to a broader crosssection of customers.
"We're trying to have a look that's desirable to all ages," he said. "We're rebranding ourselves with these new buildings to give ourselves a new look. We're doing some things to be contemporary and set ourselves aside from our competitors."
Without giving too much away, Nowakowski said there will be table groupings of different sizes and tables of different heights to accommodate gatherings of different sizes. There will be new decor, service system and digital menu boards inside, he said, and Playland will become a thing of the past.
"Kids just don't play that way anymore," he said.
Outside, the facade will be chocolate brick with white tile. Nowakowski said the Washington McDonald's will be a test site for a third drive-through window. There will be patio seating out front and a side-by-side drive-through.
"The side-by-side drive-through will allow people to get waited on faster and get to their destinations," he said.
"We'll gain a lot of inside efficiencies also."
Other outdoor changes customers will notice include a more high-tech sign.
"We're moving the sign and putting up a color electric reader board," Nowakowski said.
One thing that won't change is the menu.
"We'll be serving everybody's favorites they have now," Nowakowski said.
While he realizes people will miss their daily sweet tea, coffee and other favorites while the restaurant is closed, Nowakowski said patience will pay off.
"We appreciate everyone's patience and understanding," he said. "When we reopen we're going to open with the most contemporary McDonald's in the world for the people of Washington, Indiana. We'll have things no one else has.
"When all is said and done, it'll be a nearly $3 million investment in the community."
During the rebuilding process, some current employees have been offered the opportunity to work at the Nowakowskis' other restaurants until the Washington store reopens.
Nowakowski said there will be a grand reopening event during the first week the new restaurant is open, with giveaways and activities to introduce customers to the new look and new drive-through. In the meantime, he said, people can still satisfy their McDonald's cravings at other area McDonald's restaurants.
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