A familiar restaurant is returning bigger, better and brighter than ever.

McDonald’s will reopen its 1060 Park Ave. location Tuesday at 4 a.m. after a three-month absence.

The original building, opened in December 1972, closed Aug. 6 this year and was leveled to make way for a larger, more modern facility on the same site that will operate around the clock.

The main reason for the new building was the age of the previous one — more than 32 years, said Judy Lombardo, operations manager for McDonald’s Pittsburgh region.

“You come a point whether it’s cost-effective to put money in an old building,” she said. “We have thermal windows, updated heating, ventilation and air conditioning that is more utility efficient.”

The new building cost in excess of $500,000, according to City of Meadville building permit records.

However, there is one holdover from the first restaurant: the famous McDonald’s sign featuring golden arches.

When the new restaurant was built, it relocated to the middle of the property at Park Avenue and Poplar Street.

“It was better to put the store in the middle of the parking lot to help with the flow of traffic,” Lombardo said. “It will make it easier to get in and out.”

The new restaurant will feature a double-lane drive-through — the first of its kind in the Meadville area — allowing two vehicles to be served at one time.

Both the drive-through and dining room will be in operation 24 hours a day, Lombardo said. Previously, only the drive-through had always been open.

Because the restaurant will operate at all hours it will have more employees — 80 compared to 55 before, she said.

The new building is all on one level and self-contained, Lom-bardo said.

The old restaurant had a basement where supplies were stored and business expansion over the years meant some freezers were located outside the building at its rear.

“We don’t do basements any more,” Lombardo said with a laugh. “It’s a lot safer for the crew not having to go up and down stairs. It’s a lot more productive and a lot easier for the crew.”

The restaurant area features cafe-style seating and a self-service beverage bar. Restaurant decor of the Park Avenue location features the history of the Meadville store and McDonald’s Corp.

The seating area has wireless fidelity or WiFi Internet access for persons using laptop computers.

“The whole design is to be easier for customers and faster for customers,” she said.

This is the second Meadville-area McDonald’s to be revamped. The Vernon Township location on Route 322 near the Meadville Mall was remodeled earlier this year.

They are part of 12 restaurants in northwestern Pennsylvania that McDonald’s purchased from franchisee John McCarney in 2002.

When McCarney opened the original Park Avenue restaurant in 1972, McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc was on hand for its official ribbon cutting. Kroc died in 1984 at age 81.

Tuesday’s grand opening will include an official ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m.

There will be souvenir coffee mugs for the first 100 people at the grand opening, a number of door prizes as well as appearances by McDonaldland friends Hamburglar and Grimace.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com

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