Jackson residents and visitors craving a quick burger or bite to eat will notice some significant changes to two of the town’s fast-food restaurants: McDonald’s and Wendy’s.
Both are undergoing major overhauls to their interiors and exteriors, with work at both restaurants expected to be completed soon.
At Wendy’s, dine-in customers will experience an overhauled interior and upgrades to the bathrooms, general manager Doug Hutmacher said. And passersby may notice an improved exterior facade.
The upgrades at Wendy’s also include new drive-thru equipment and technological improvements, the latter of which are still underway, according to Hutmacher.
“Basically we’re just trying to get to a point where we just make it faster and more efficient,” the general manager said.
Hutmacher said the changes at Wendy’s are very noticeable and have been well-received by customers.
He expects the work there — which began in April — to be wrapped up soon and said the COVID-19 pandemic did not play a role in the timing of the projects or in workers’ ability to wrap them up in a timely manner.
“I’m hoping in another 30 days” the work will be finished,” Hutmacher said.
“We’re just waiting on some electrical stuff to get done and some other things, so we’ll be done hopefully in another month.”
Just down the road at McDonald’s, where construction has been ongoing since May 10 and has limited business to drive-thru and curbside pickup, in addition to delivery through Uber Eats and DoorDash, owner John Finley said the plan is to have construction finished even sooner.
“In a perfect world this will be the last week of the major construction, and it deals basically with a lot of the exterior finishes,” said Finley, who with his wife, Alice, has owned the McDonald’s for 18 years.
“Everything went pretty well on the interior renovation,” he said. “We redid the entire customer service areas from bathrooms to the dining room to the lobby, it was all literally floor to ceiling; A complete gut.”
Finley said some minor setbacks on the exterior work — specifically the timely delivery of supplies, and suppliers bringing the correct materials — pushed the timeline back about 10 days.
Though construction has limited customers to drive-thru, curbside and delivery orders, Finley noted that that’s not a big change from 2020, when the pandemic forced the McDonald’s to go to that model in March of that year
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing right now, Finley noted.
“I will say, we’re going to have a nice new interior, but it could be months before people are exposed to it because like so many other businesses around town, the staffing is kind of an Achilles’ heel right now,” Finley said.
He said McDonald’s staffing level is about 55% to 60% of what it would normally be this time of year, though he was quick to praise the employees he does have.
“So we literally, with the crowds that can descend upon us during the summer, we couldn’t provide the level of service that they expect and that we want to deliver, because we just don’t have the staffing.”
Despite that hardship, Finley is still looking on the bright side. Sales were down about 15% in 2020, he said, but have largely rebounded this year.
The construction has had its impact on sales, though he sees that as a temporary bump in the road.
“For about the last month we’ve been back into negative numbers, but we’re starting to see, again, the trending turn positive or that momentum turn positive again now that the lot is being cleared of a lot of construction containers and a lot of construction trucks and things like that,” Finley said.