You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Fast-food chains engage in extreme makeovers

McDonald’s has spent nearly $34 million in 4 years rebuilding and renovating

National fast-food chains are spending millions of dollars across the Miami Valley renovating, relocating, razing and rebuilding their restaurants.

The reasons behind the restaurant makeovers vary. Some of the buildings targeted for rehab — or, in some cases, demolition followed by new construction — are three or four decades old or older. They’re not energy efficient, and their layouts hinder effective customer service, especially in the increasingly important drive-throughs. In other cases, fast-food chains are seeking to enhance customers’ dining-room experience or update their brands with new logos and signage.

The investments are considerable. McDonald’s alone has spent about $34 million just in the last four years relocating, rebuilding and refurbishing 21 of its franchise restaurants in the region. Some of the most ambitious projects included razing an existing outdated restaurant and building a new one from the ground up, as it has done in Huber Heights, Kettering and Troy, or purchasing or leasing a larger tract of land near an existing restaurant and building a brand new eatery, as franchise owners have done in Centerville, Riverside and Dayton. All of the fast-food giant’s locations in greater Springfield have undergone some type of renovation in recent years.

Benjamin Scott Jr., a franchise owner who operates 14 McDonald’s restaurants from Beavercreek to Sidney, said it sometimes makes more sense, both financially and operationally, to start from scratch rather than to try to renovate an aging eatery. The multi-million-dollar projects create construction jobs and often result in at least a slight increase in the number of people each newly opened restaurant employs, to accommodate an uptick in business.

The investments suggest that fast-food chains are bullish on the future — and analysts who study the industry agree. In its 2014 industry report entitled “Fast Food Restaurants in the U.S.,” IBISWorld, a Los Angeles-based independent industry research firm, projected that fast-food revenues will grow 2 percent a year over the next five years, to $219.3 billion in 2019. The firms projects the fast-food industry will make $7.2 billion in profits on $199 million in total revenue in 2014.

“As plenty of opportunities remain for new fast-food concepts and products, the industry’s long era of growth is far from over,” the IBIBWorld report concluded.

Store renovations such as those ongoing in southwest Ohio will likely help fuel that growth through higher sales.

Wendy’s chief executive Emil Brolick said last year that its re-designed restaurants were selling more food, with higher check averages and customer counts. A Wendy’s restaurant at 220 S. Heincke Road in Miamisburg received a similar makeover late last year — a Wendy’s spokeswoman said last week the project was completed in January 2014 — as part of a broader “brand transformation” to a new logo and signage.

Wendy’s prototype stores feature digital menu boards, flat-screen TVs, fireplaces and Wi-Fi. The company has seen an increase of up to 25 percent in the average unit sales volumes of store prototypes, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. Wendy’s is moving forward with remodels for 100 company-owned restaurants and 100 franchised locations, although no other Miami Valley restaurants are currently undergoing the renovations beyond the completed Miamisburg project, a company spokeswoman said.

Other fast-food companies are making similar moves. Taco Bell has gotten preliminary approval from the city of Dayton for a demolish-and-rebuild project for its restaurant at the corner of Brown Street and Wyoming Street near Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton. And earlier this year, the Mexican-food chain also renovated a former Keybank building and moved one of its restaurants to larger quarters on Kettering Boulevard near West Dorothy Lane in Moraine. And Arby’s is applying the finishing touches to a $200,000 renovation to a Huber Heights store at 5561 Merily Way in Huber Heights.

McDonald’s, however, is the clear leader in the Miami Valley in rebuilds and renovations. The nation’s largest burger chain — which employs more than 6,000 at its 86 restaurants across the region — spent nearly $15 million on 11 projects in 2012 alone. It is completing three projects this year totaling more than $6 million, including the McDonald’s eatery on at the same Huber Heights intersection as the Arby’s undergoing renovation.

The Huber Heights project was among the chain’s most ambitious: a $2.3 million replacement of an existing McDonald’s. Benjamin Scott Jr. — head of Scott Family McDonald’s, the 14-unit franchisee — oversaw that project, and said it’s a complex process to decide which stores to refurbish or replace.

“We try to look at which stores need it most,” Scott said. “We consider drive-through issues, kitchen issues. But we can’t do them all at once. We have to balance things out, and stretch the projects out.”

The need is there. “Stores that were built 30 years ago just weren’t built to accommodate the level of business” that a McDonald’s unit does today, Scott said.

The Huber Heights store that was demolished had a separate, less-than-efficient refrigeration unit — and a basement. Those drawbacks made it a prime candidate for a rebuild, Scott said.

Nearly all of the McDonald’s projects include adding a second drive-through lane, and some also include a pull-forward window for more complex orders, all designed to serve more people faster in the drive-through convenience that accounts for up to 70 percent of business.

“We know that customers come to us for convenience,” Scott said. “Families are on the go, and they need it now.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Speedway to hire 1,000 workers across 9 states
Speedway to hire 1,000 workers across 9 states

Speedway will hire 1,000 workers in nine Midwest states and will host open interviews at each of its stores in the region later this month. The convenience store chain, with a headquarters in Enon, will host open interviews from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25 at every one of its stores in nine states, according to information from the company...
Holiday debt blues? Here’s help getting on track
Holiday debt blues? Here’s help getting on track

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau. With the holidays behind you, the new year is a great time to get your finances back on track if you’ve slipped a bit. By dedicating yourself to using credit responsibly and sticking to a sensible plan, then you can effectively pay down your debt. According to, total U.S....
New shopping center proposed at long-vacant Springfield site
New shopping center proposed at long-vacant Springfield site

A new retail development is likely coming to the east side of Springfield at a longtime vacant property, the first major commercial growth there in several years. The Springfield Board of Zoning Appeals approved Wednesday night a variance for the former Roberds site in the 3000 block of East Main Street. City documents filed by developer Springfield...
Gmail phishing scam may lead users to give up login info
Gmail phishing scam may lead users to give up login info

A new phishing scam is allowing hackers to gain access to unsuspecting Gmail users' accounts and target their login credentials, according to recent reports. Mark Maunder, CEO of security service Wordfence, described the scam in detail in a blog post, adding that it is also targeting other services beyond Gmail. Tech Times reported that the scam involves...
Millennials spend more on coffee, save less for retirement
Millennials spend more on coffee, save less for retirement

A large number of Millennials spent more on coffee in the past year than they invested in their retirement savings, according to a new study. » RELATED: What makes Millennials tick in the workplace? It may surprise you About 41 percent of the Millennials — ages 18 to 35 — admitted to spending more on coffee than they saved for retirement...
More Stories