Dozens of people were in line just minutes after the Nilles Road McDonald’s reopened late Thursday morning.
It had been nearly four months since the original building — built in 1976 — was razed to make way for the new structure, and faithful customers could not wait for the doors to open.
“Right now, it’s crazy,” said Danielle Carter, of Fairfield, who was one of the first customers. “My son wanted to come to the new McDonald’s, so that’s why we came today.”
Carter ordered from one of the new self-order kiosks at the restaurant at 563 Nilles Road, where customers can now bypass the counter to order on a computer screen and pay with a credit or debit card. It’s a feature all 18 Butler County McDonald’s restaurants will eventually have, according to McDonald’s USA.
Many of the first customers in the newly re-built restaurant were some of the loyal regulars, according to owner Patrick Pawling.
“It’s the brand new style for the McDonald’s. We have all the new technology,” he said. “We’re excited to get our customers back.”
The new technology is known as Experience of the Future, which includes self-order kiosks, digital menu boards and the Mobile Order & Pay with a curbside service option via the McDonald’s mobile app.
Kara Tafur, who will eventually take over ownership of the McDonald’s from her father, Pawling, said she “can’t complain” with the customer response just minutes into the reopening.
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“I was curious to see how busy we’d be,” said Tafur, who runs the day-to-day operations along with some supervisors. “I know a lot of our customers had been going to other restaurants, so I know the word had been getting out, but I was curious to see how busy we’d be right at 11 (a.m.)”
The crowd shouldn’t come to a surprise, because the Nilles Road McDonald’s is the 13th-highest in transactions in the country in terms of total guests, according to Pawling. His Oxford McDonald’s, he said, is No. 2 in the country in total guests and No. 1 in the country in drive-through traffic.
“We have a loyal base of customers, and we have long-term employees,” he said. “Of course, the McDonald’s product is well-known, and we just try to be as service-conscious as we can. That’s the key.”
Because of the anticipated volume, they increased the staffing and nearly everyone who worked at the restaurant when it closed came back, Pawling said. He said they hired more staff in anticipation of even more guests.
Tafur said the location now has close to 100 employees.
One thing that will likely drive traffic is the new look and features, Pawling said.
Pawling has already rebuilt some of his nine McDonald’s restaurants and plans to remodel the others ones as well. He owns McDonald’s restaurants in Fairfield, Hamilton, Middletown, Oxford and Richmond, Ind.