When children from Charlotte's Web four-year-old program show up for Tuesday morning's 10:30 a.m. ribbon cutting at the new Playland in McDonald's, they'll likely be drawn to the climbing area and the electronic games.
Their parents, meanwhile, will hopefully be thrilled with the kiosks, table service and mobile order/pay capacity the Jacksonville eatery offers.
“We've been getting calls like crazy” about opening day, store owner Lynann Young said Monday afternoon during a reopening celebration. The restaurant's grand opening is slated for Nov. 17.
The 402 S. Jackson St. store closed June 10 for a complete tear-down, but heavier than normal rains during the past few months delayed the project, and “there were some challenges for the contractor, who had never done this kind of building before,” she explained, adding that a remodel would have cost about the same, or more, hence the decision to completely rebuild.
Located in the same spot as the original restaurant, there are several notable changes with the new McDonald's: The front now faces south, with the order window on the north side of the building. This, along with a dual lane that leads customers towards the highway side of the store to pick up their order, means a smoother flow of traffic, without vehicles stacked up in the entrance or the side streets, Young said.
It also is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A part of McDonald's Vision 2020 building plan, the new location has an open floor plan that creates a larger, brighter feel.
The kitchen capacity is better, Young said, and features state-of-the-art machines – for example, the mocha and hot drink machines include directions on how to prepare the perfect beverage – that help streamline food preparation while providing consistent, quality food.
Self-order kiosks and table service – “You will be able to key your table location in, and your food will be delivered right to your table,” she said – also help streamline customer service.
But it's the play area that possibly will draw the most attention, thanks to a graduated structure that allows smaller children to play at the lowest level, while older children are able to play on levels of their own, creating a safer play environment all around.
Then there are the two Ucreate touch screens, electronic toys released this year by the company following its worldwide convention, Young explained.
“It's something new. McDonald's has not had very many in their restaurants, and we have it in a table form (as well as a screen near the climbing area),” she said. “And this is so that families can play together.”
The new store also has a digital reader board outside that will note specials, among other items, and now employs 110 employees. Before, the store had approximately 65 employees, Young said.
Daily specials will be offered through Dec. 2 at the Jacksonville eatery.