Belen McDonald’s expansion, renovation produces some benefits
The recent remodeling and expansion of the Belen McDonald’s restaurant comes with some additional benefits for the community, according to Mike Garcia, operations manager for parent company LPG Enterprises.
Among those benefits, he said, were local construction jobs, additional gross receipts taxes for Belen, an additional 15-20 new jobs at the restaurant, and, for local nightowls, ’round-the-clock hours soon on Fridays and Saturdays.
“The main part of the reinvestment was for the people of Belen,” said Garcia.
LPG stands for Larry and Pearline Garcia, Valencia County residents who started their 15-store chain with the Belen restaurant in 1984. Mike Garcia is not related to the owners, but has been with them 20 years, starting in the Los Lunas store.
He described the recent work as a “four-wall remodel,” which means everything from the four outside walls inward was redone, plus an expansion that added about 3,000 square feet to the building.
“We have new everything,” he said. “From the floor tile up, everything is new,” including furnishings, wall coverings, ceiling, the outside facade, a 1,000-square-foot addition to the rear to extended the kitchen, new kitchen equipment, a new walk-in freezer, and a 2,000-square-foot expansion at the front of the building to add a “Play Place” for kids and comfortable seating for parents while they watch their kids.
“The Play Place is a little different from other stores,” Garcia said. “This one is more interactive. Parents can actually go inside some of it with their kids.”
One of the more unique, and to this point confusing, features of the remodel is two side-by-side drive-through ordering stations at the back. Motorists can place their orders at either station, then merge into the one pick-up lane.
“It speeds up the drive-through process considerably,” Garcia said. “Say you have someone at one station placing a large order. Rather than waiting in line, drivers can go to the other station and get served faster.”
People haven’t quite caught on yet, he said, probably because they wonder how the personnel can keep the orders straight. The answer is quite simple.
“We take a picture of the car,” Garcia said. “The picture is attached to the order on the order screen. When the car pulls up to the window, the clerk finds the picture and immediately knows that customer’s order. So it doesn’t matter in what order the car comes to the window.”
He said weekend hours will be adjusted as soon as the installation of some security equipment is completed soon. The store will open at 5 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 6 a.m. on Sunday. It will close at midnight Sunday through Thursday, but will be open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday.
Garcia said there is more to come, as well, including additional improvements to the outside, once the current parking lot renovation is done, and the installation of a “big digital sign” out front.
The menu will also be expanded, he said, and the store will continue to offer free wi-fi Internet connection.
Garcia said he couldn’t disclose or even estimate the total cost of the expansion and remodeling because all the bills aren’t in yet, but did say jokingly it was “too much.”
Contact Dana Bowley