The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 17, 2012

McDonald's on U.S. 31 closed; to be rebuilt

By Adam Smith
adam@athensnews-courier.com

— If no one offers to take your order in the drive-thru lane at the McDonald’s on U.S. 31, it’s because the restaurant is closed.

Preparations are finally under way to demolish and rebuild a new restaurant, seven months after plans were first announced. It’s unknown when work will officially start on the project, but Public Works Superintendent James Rich said work should be completed within the next 80 days.

A building permit was issued for the project on Dec. 13, according to the city’s building department. The project is expected to cost about $980,000.

Representatives with McDonald’s requested a variance to the city’s sign ordinance at an Athens Planning Commission meeting in July.

The zoning board did not approve a request for seven signs, but instead approved three signs — a “golden arches” sign on the side facing U.S. 31 and another on the side facing Kmart, and a “McDonald’s” sign on the Walgreens side.

It’s unclear what the new restaurant will look like, as representatives with McDonald’s corporate offices did not return a call prior to press time. However, the 56-year-old fast-food chain announced last summer that it would invest $1 billion to update the look of restaurants across the nation and provide a more upscale dining experience.

An article appearing in USA Today said the chain would use a store in Tampa, Fla., as the template for about 800 locations. The model features exterior stone accents, more glass, muted colors and a look more akin to a trendy coffee shop than a fast-food restaurant.

McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with more than 32,000 locations serving approximately 64 million customers in 117 countries each day, according to McDonald’s website. More than 80 percent of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local men and women.