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McDonald's closes for renovations

The Thomson McDonald's will reopen March 17 with more space, faster service, a new look and more employees, owners said Thursday.

The Washington Highway fixture closed Jan. 2 for reconstruction.

Owners David and Janie Cravens of Washington operate six McDonald's. Their daughter Jennifer Partridge and son-in-law James Partridge of Augusta operate two. Mr. Cravens said the eight stores employ about 500 people in a five-county area.

"We run a pretty good payroll," he said.

He said most employees at the Thomson restaurant work at least 35 hours a week.

As construction continues, all 62 Thomson employees have been offered work in other area McDonald's restaurants, including those in Wrens, Washington and Augusta.

"If they want to work, we've got a place for them to work," Mr. Cravens said. "No one's missing a check."

"We've got some good people," he said.

Mrs. Cravens said some employees have said they enjoy the change as they work at other stores.

He estimated that the restaurant will have 85 to 90 employees when it reopens in March. Anyone interested in the new positions may apply online at

Mr. Cravens said the contractor has added extra crew and a second superintendent. "We hope to get it done in 70 days," he said.

He said the revised floor plan will be more efficient, easier to operate, and will require less maintenance.

Mrs. Cravens said she has selected the new d├ęcor.

"It's going to be really nice," she said. "It's going to have a friendly, young, vibrant look."

Capacity will be expanded to 144 seats. The expanded parking lot will keep the same number of spaces but might lose a couple of truck parking spots.

Mr. Cravens said a second drive-through lane will move traffic more smoothly.

"We're building the new store that McDonald's has developed, with the new look," Mr. Cravens said.

An example of the new appearance can be seen at the store at Davis Road and Washington near Sheriff's Drive in Evans, but the new Thomson store will be much larger, he said.

"It will be 138 feet long," he said.

Most of the equipment will be purchased new.

The Thomson restaurant opened on Jan. 28, 1974. The Cravenses purchased the restaurant in January 2001. The couple's first restaurant is the Washington location, purchased in 1996.

Mrs. Cravens said she hopes to involve Thomson Elementary School in an activity before the store reopens. Other goals include a "business before hours" event with the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Cravens said plenty of training must be completed before the store reopens.

As he stood outside his half-demolished restaurant Thursday, Mr. Cravens faced a 70-day wait for another chance at a senior coffee. He took a moment from surveying the work to remark on the menu, which he says will not change with the new building.

"I'll eat anything on the menu," he said, "but the grilled chicken I like the best."

He said the signature Big Mac was his favorite in earlier years.

"Now you just cannot eat a Big Mac without eating french fries," he said.

Venture Construction of Atlanta is the contractor.

Web posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

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