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McClatchy-Tribune  05/15/2014 8:32 AM ET
Fire won't affect Hamilton McDonald's re-opening [Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio :: ]

May 15--HAMILTON -- The McDonald's on South Erie Boulevard plans to still open today despite an end-of-April fire that destroyed a storage building on the construction site.

The newly built fast-food restaurant plans to re-open at 11 a.m. today at 1771 S. Erie Blvd./Ohio 4 in Hamilton, said Owner Pat Pawling.

On April 27, a fire with smoke seen from downtown Hamilton burned a three car garage being built for extra storage space, Pawling said. The unfinished storage building was framed and roofed, but there was nothing in it, he said.

No flames touched the main restaurant building under construction. Therefore, the fire did not affect the opening, Pawling said.

The cause of the fire "could have been anything, we just have no idea," he said.

Prior to last month's fire, the old McDonald's at the same site was torn down. A new restaurant was rebuilt in its place with the national food chain's modern finishes.

The original McDonald's on site was more than 50-years-old and still had the red and white tile common among McDonald's first restaurants built in the 1960s, Pawling said. It was the 212th McDonald's restaurant built in the company's system. Today, Illinois-based McDonald's Corp. has more than 32,000 locations worldwide.

Remodeled several times over the years, this is the first time the Hamilton eatery was completely knocked down and rebuilt.

Pawling said he also bought the property next door, a former Rent-A-Center, which was also demolished.

When the Hamilton restaurant opens again -- it's been closed about four weeks -- it will have 107 seats versus 92 previously. Also new is a side-by-side drive-through. A third pick-up window was added for food orders that take more time.

New service systems will operate inside for taking and filling orders. Customers can eat anytime, as the restaurant's drive-through and dining room will be open 24/7.

The exterior, landscaping and signage have been improved.

Not only was the rebuild an opportunity to update facilities, its also given the restaurant workers a chance to re-focus on customer service, Pawling said.

"We're really going to try to upgrade the overall hospitality of how we take care of customers," he said. "I think if we portray how we feel about our customers from a physical plant standpoint, we also have to do that to our attitude."

Pawling and his wife, Debbie, own eight total McDonald's restaurants with locations in Fairfield, Forest Park, Oxford, Hamilton, and Richmond, Ind.


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