McDonald’s gets $3-million upgrade

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Renos in progress for four local restaurants

Four fast-food favourites are getting a facelift this summer to provide a more contemporary and convenient dining experience.

Each McDonald’s restaurant in St. Albert is undergoing renovations, largely expected to be complete in August, with a price tag of more than $3 million.

“We want to create a new experience, a contemporary experience, and take McDonald’s back to what people remember McDonald’s for, which is a fun place, a convenient place,” said Rob Chiasson, owner and operator of the St. Albert locations.

The restaurants are benefiting from a corporate cash injection of roughly $1 billion, announced back in September.

“This is a pivotal time for McDonald’s and we’re placing unwavering focus on transforming the face of our brand,” John Betts, president and CEO of McDonald’s Canada, said in a news release.

Chiasson said improvements will include free Wi-Fi, a self-serve beverage station and a dual-lane drive-thru.

“We’re just excited about the new designs and we think the consumers in St. Albert will be excited by that too,” he said.

Renovations to the location inside Walmart were completed in March while the north and south St. Albert locations are expected to be complete in August.

Work will then begin on the central McDonald’s, located beside St. Albert Centre.

“That will be our biggest project because what we’ll do is tear down the existing site and rebuild it,” Chiasson said.

The location, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, will become one of a handful of McDonald’s Canada prototype restaurants when renovations are complete.

“That site is very old and tired and it’s not a site that we’re very excited about right now, but I think it will shift some business from the south and the north to the centre of town,” he said, adding the central location currently has the lowest volume.

Chiasson said he expects renovations to be completed by the new year, adding development can only progress after receiving necessary permits from the City of St. Albert.

A development permit has already been issued and Chiasson said they are now awaiting receipt of the building permit.

The central location will feature an expanded kids’ play facility, a multi-purpose party room and new menu items.

Although the location will appear to take up the same amount of space, it is being reduced from a two-storey building to ground level only.

“In some ways it will be a little bit smaller, but from a customer point of view, I don’t think they will feel it,” Chiasson said.

Chiasson and his wife, Karen, moved to Sturgeon County in September when they took over ownership of the St. Albert locations, previously owned by the corporation.

“I started working for McDonald’s when I was 17 years old going to school and worked for the corporation for 33 years,” Chiasson said.

When moving from the corporate world to restaurant ownership, he said individuals often do not have a choice in where they will be relocated.

“My wife and I did some research and found that St. Albert was a great little city and wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “We think there’s a lot of opportunity in St. Albert.”

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