McDonald's returns to Cassville
At 5 a.m. yesterday morning, the McDonald's restaurant in Cassville re-opened its doors to the public with a new look a little over six months after a fire that destroyed the previous building.
"It was very important for us to get this building open, not only for our business, but for the revenue we bring to the city and for the jobs we provide to individuals," said Doris Autry, director of operations for Mathews Management Company, which owns and operates this and 34 other franchises in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
The previous structure was destroyed on March 10, and from the beginning, two important objectives were established by Bill Mathews, co-owner of the company. The first was to re-open within as close to six months as possible, and the second was to take care of the employees who were now without employment.
Within days of the fire, Mathews conducted a meeting in which employees were offered positions at his Rogers, Ark., franchise. Those that accepted were provided additional compensation for travel expenses. Schedules were also carefully prepared to provide options for transportation.
"We split our managers up so that [employees] could car pool with people who maybe didn't have a car or other means to get there," said Autry.
Uncontested unemployment was offered to those who elected not to work at the Rogers McDonald's. These were the first people that were contacted three months ago when the restaurant began the hiring process.
"We brought back the majority of all employees and managers and then some," said Autry, who also noted that the new, larger restaurant will employee 20 managers and 110 employees with job openings still available.
This new building is specifically designed by the McDonald's Corporation to provide efficiency and fast service. It includes a state-of-the-art kitchen, digital menu boards, a larger lobby with a TV, and increased storage space in the stockroom area.
"This is the focus of their new branding, they call it the 'arcade look,'" said Mathews.
One design change that is immediately apparent is the elimination of the PlayPlace. This was a decision that was based on sales demographics by the McDonald's Corporation who owns the building and the land.
"The amazing thing is the graphic they go off on is the number of Happy Meals sold per thousand in the population," said Mathews, "and we didn't have enough Happy Meal sales."
The lobby and seating area does include an area where Touch 2 Play systems are provided for customers. These touch-sensitive monitors offer a variety of games with different skill levels that are age-appropriate. Counter space is offered for those who choose to eat and play at the same time.
The new restaurant still includes a double lane drive thru, which features the newest design of this service. A fast forward window has also been added when food is not immediately available for a customer.
"In the event that we have to pull a car forward, we have this option especially for overnight locations," said Autry. "Previously, we didn't have the ability to park someone."
An invitation-only VIP event was held this past Monday to thank the community and provide the crew with a trial run before the opening. The grand opening is scheduled for Oct. 19. Happy Meal specials will be provided with a ribbon cutting scheduled at noon. At this event, the Barry County Museum will be given a $500 donation by the restaurant.
"The Barry County Museum has been huge for us," said Autry. "They're the ones that offered up their facility for free for us to have our meeting after the fire, and we've been doing a lot of our orientations there to get going."
Several local businesses and service providers have also benefited during the construction of the building. L.R. Mourning Company, of Little Rock, Ark., was the general contractor for the project, and it is their practice to give preference to local subcontractors.
"We've found it beneficial to use the people [that operate] where you're at." Said James Oliver superintendent for the general contractor.
Oliver and Autry were also complimentary of the city, crediting the building inspector with moving things along to meet their timeline.
"The city utilities department and the building inspector have been great," said Oliver. The building inspector would come down anytime -- he even came down on a Sunday once."
Barry County Ready Mix was one of the subcontractors hired to provide their services for this project. They produced and supplied the recycled concrete ready mix that is part of the footing and subfloor of the building. They also provided the mix used for the parking lot and sidewalks.
"We were honored to be a part of this," said Eli Stehlik, operations manager for the company. "It allows a producer like us to showcase a quality product for many years to come. That parking lot is something that I'll be able to show my grandkids."