MARIETTA - Although many people were looking forward to Thursday's grand opening of the McDonald's restaurant on Glendale Road, there were none more anxious than the 10 men who have been meeting there daily for about a decade.
"We're glad to be back home now," said Marietta resident Harold Cranston, 69. "We've been out on Pike Street (at the McDonald's restaurant) but this is bringing us back home to where we've been going the past several years."
The new restaurant is located in the same spot as the old McDonald's, which was demolished in March, but it has many features the old restaurant didn't have, including two drive through lanes and a digital menu board.
Photo by Ashley Rittenhouse
Emily Myers, a public relations account executive with Moroch, left, and Glendale Road McDonald’s restaurant owner Laurie Strahler talk in the dining room of the new restaurant.
Restaurant owner Laurie Strahler said it took 90 days to build, which was the goal set at the beginning.
"How fortunate we were to have good weather," she said, noting many local laborers were involved with the project.
The restaurant opened at 10 a.m. Thursday with the first 100 customers through the door receiving a coupon for a free Big Mac or Egg McMuffin each week for a year.
Ronald McDonald was on hand from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday and raffle prizes such as cornhole boards will be given away every day to June 30.
The new restaurant is different from the old one in that it has seating for 97 in the main dining room rather than 88. While it doesn't have a PlayPlace it does have two touch monitors inside on which families can play games.
Strahler said one thing she likes best about the new restaurant is that it is environmentally friendly, with features like restroom lights that don't turn on until a person enters the room, chairs and fabric made from bamboo and LED lighting.
"There's no fiberglass in the store whatsoever," she said.
Other unique features of the restaurant include large photographs on the walls taken by Strahler's stepdaughter-in-law, Amy Strahler. The photos are of Marietta landmarks and events, including the Harmar Bridge and Ohio River Sternwheel Festival.
"One of the customers said they see a McDonald's and it's generic and it was a big goal of mine to make it 'Marietta,'" Laurie Strahler said. "With the old paintings of Marietta we had (in the former restaurant) it was Marietta, but the pictures modernize it."
Like the old restaurant the new restaurant is equipped with free wireless Internet service, but there is now a station with electrical outlets specifically meant for customers with laptop computers.
Customers will notice a difference when it comes to ordering food and beverages in the new restaurant.
It has a self-serve beverage bar plus each customer will be given a receipt with a number on it and when their order is ready their number will be called and it will appear on a monitor above the cash registers.
"That should improve efficiency," said Emily Myers, a public relations account executive with Moroch.
The new restaurant also has more employees than the old one, 70 versus 55, Strahler said. She said she increased the staff count because customer traffic is expected to jump due to the addition of a drive through lane and additional seating in the dining room.
"We have such a strong crew here and so many long-term employees," she noted.
While the new restaurant was being built some of those who worked at the old Glendale Road restaurant were sent to other local McDonald's restaurants to work.
Other employees chose to work for local nonprofit organizations and Strahler paid them their normal wages to do so.
"Her total monetary value of the hours her employees worked during that period was over $10,000," Myers said.
The old McDonald's restaurant on Glendale Road, built in 1976, was Marietta's first McDonald's. It was constructed by Strahler's family.
Harold Cranston said he is impressed with the looks and features of the new restaurant and he's looking forward to joining other members of the breakfast club there for coffee and breakfast every day.
"We have a wide mix and we solve all the problems of town and country and if there aren't any problems we make them and solve them," he said. "You're starting the day in a good atmosphere with some good friends."