By Jim Newell
It may seem like it’s been ages to some people, but the McDonald’s on M-24 reopened on Tuesday after only three-and-a-half months of construction.
The old building – which had been in Lake Orion for 40 years – was demolished in May to make way for a new, more customer friendly restaurant.
McDonald’s held a ribbon cutting ceremony and VIP open house on Monday to celebrate the reopening. And the community has been buzzing with anticipation when they could once again pass under the Golden Arches.
A post on The Lake Orion Review’s Facebook page back in May with the photos and information of the old McDonald’s building being demolished had more views and shares than the Lake Orion Pet Center demolition story, or the Coats Road house explosion/fire posts.
Monday night’s event was a VIP invitational to show off the new building and amenities, including a touch screen menu kiosk where patrons can place their own orders instead of waiting in line, an upgraded kitchen and food preparation area and new dining room with more spacious, comfortable seating and inviting decor.
John “Jack” McMahon has owned the Lake Orion McDonald’s for 40 years, and also owns the Oxford and Great Lakes Crossing restaurants.
McMahon’s sponsored the Lake Orion High School volleyball team, supports the Guest House at the Scripps Mansion, donates to artistic endeavors and gives out a $1,000 scholarship for seniors every year at Lake Orion and Oxford high schools, said longtime friends Ann Voorheis-Sargent.
“This gentleman has contributed a lot to the community over the years,” said Lake Orion Village Council President Ken Van Portfliet.
Alexis Sargent, Anns’ daughter and an LOHS graduate, sang the national anthem at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Billy Sampson, one of the restaurant supervisors, said McDonald’s has new kitchen appliances with expanded automated features to reduce the amount of human contact from preparation time to the time the customer gets their food.
“It’s a lot more efficient. It’s going to make everything go much quicker and easier,” Sampson said.
McDonald’s currently has 50 employees but plans to hire another 20-25, said General Manager Patty Horton, who has been with the McDonald’s for 39 years and general manager in Lake Orion since 2002.
Horton said McDonald’s is moving toward increasing its guests experience, and the new features – such as the self-order touchscreen menus – are a step toward that goal.
“It’s part of our goal to offer the customer different points of service,” Horton said, adding that McDonald’s will explore using table locators to bring orders out to customer and, eventually, making it possible for people to order from their phones.
“We are moving forward with mobile ordering…and looking at all point of ordering that our customers are looking for,” said Suzanne Sudek, marketing supervisor for McDonald’s Corp.