The old golden arches at the corner of Highways 87 and 260 have a proud, new glow. Payson's McDonald's reopened with a family night Thursday and began welcoming regular customers at 5 a.m. today.
"We have a new building, new equipment, new employees, new registers, so we opened with a family night to give everyone some extra training," said Abe Martinez Jr., owner and operator of the fast food restaurant.
In fact, the Payson McDonald's is the newest restaurant building in the chain's U.S. operations. It was built in record time, Martinez said. He said it took only 101 days from closing the doors on the old building to opening them in the new structure.
"We want to compliment the city," he said. "From the time we started the review process (on the plans) and all the way through (construction), they have been very helpful and cooperative. When issues came up, they were addressed immediately. The town staff has been very supportive."
Martinez invited employees of the town, along with their families, the families of his employees and a few others for family night festivities, which were from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.
He expects the new McDonald's to be open until 1 a.m. Saturday for its first full day in operation.
About three years ago Martinez started considering remodeling the restaurant.
"I looked at the town and saw how much it was growing. It's the gateway to the Mogollon Rim and the White Mountains, and our store was tired."
He said the old equipment was showing wear and tear, and maintenance and repairs were becoming expensive.
After looking at the costs involved in an update, Martinez said he talked with the McDonald's Corp. and together they decided to raze the old building and start from the ground up.
Martinez bought adjoining property to expand the parking area, and the new building is oriented to the south.
Martinez put the play area inside the building.
"Most McDonald's are phasing out the Playland, but talking to people around town, they told me they wanted us to have one," Martinez said.
The new building is almost twice as big as the old one, with about 5,200 square feet, he said. Plans called for a seating capacity of 65 to 75, but Martinez and his contractor were able to create seating for 101 customers.
Currently the restaurant has 45 employees, but that may be expanded in the summer of 2006 as Martinez has plans to be open 24 hours. Presently the store is open from 5 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Martinez has 10 different McDonald's in northeastern Arizona and western New Mexico.