McDonald's Operator Plans Big Upgrades
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The company that owns 25 McDonald's restaurants in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania may upgrade nearly a third of those stores in 2012, its owner said.
Celebrating the recently completed renovation of the East Midlothian Boulevard McDonald's, Herb Washington, president of H.L.W. Fast Track Inc., said Thursday he plans work on six to eight of his stores this year. That includes the relocation of the one of the Mahoning Valley's oldest McDonald's restaurants, on U.S. 224 near Market Street in Boardman, to a new building across the road from its present one.
"The goal is to have 80% of all the McDonald's in the United States on one of the newer looks by the end of 2015," said Terrell Washington, general manager of H.L.W. Fast Track and Herb Washington's son.
Fast Track spent more than $500,000 to renovate the store, Herb Washington said. Of the 25 stores he owns from Cleveland to the west to Greenville, Pa. to the east, 16 are in the Mahoning Valley. Total employment is about 1,500, he said.
Upgrades to the East Midlothian store, which features a more "contemporary look," Terrell Washington said, include a double drive-through lane and an expanded lobby with additional seating.
The freestanding chairs in the store, which are made from recycled Coca Cola bottles, are among the environmentally friendly features. The lighting and much of the equipment is Energy Star certified, he added. The store, which operates around the clock, employs 65 at this time of year, its slow period, and brings employment to more than 80 in the summer, when it is busier.
"What I hope is that by doing this renovation here that others in the community will see the need to continue to invest in Youngstown and make Youngstown proud," the senior Washington said during a ceremony marking the renovation.
Mayor Charles Sammarone thanked and recognized Washington for his contributions to the city.
"You've always been a plus for the city of Youngstown" by investing in the city and helping to create jobs, he remarked. "We need more people like Herb Washington in the city."
The relocation of the Boardman store -- which will open March 1 in a new building at the site of the former Circuit City building, just north of its current location -- is something Herb Washington said he has wanted to do "from day one" when he came here and acquired it and several other area McDonald's restaurants 12 years ago.
"The store is old. It's the 224th McDonald's ever built and we just couldn't find the right site for the right price," he said. "We continued to wait until this situation occurred, where CVS bought the corner and we had some conversations with them about being a partner on that lot."
The new McDonald's, projected to open just under a month from now, will be larger than the store it will replace, and more modern than the new East Midlothian restaurant, he promised. "You're going to see some things in that restaurant that you don't see here. It's gong to be even more cutting-edge," he remarked. "You will have a big 'wow' factor once it opens, and you can already see from the structure that is going up that it's quite different from any McDonald's you've ever seen."
Those differences include the building's height, barrel roof, glass at the top of the structure and special treatments on the ceiling, he explained. That building will feature a double drive-through lane as well, he said.
"Over the course of the years, we've probably updated half a dozen" restaurants, he said. "But that's different generations of the updates." The new models are "going to be the buildings that you're going to see" for the next 15 or 20 years, he said.
Copyright 2012 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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