Out With McOld
In With McNew
by Danny Wade
For 35 years, a local restaurant has been serving hungry customers every day of the week. But that will soon change.
McDonald’s, located at the corner of Hwy 45 Bypass and Central Ave. is closing its doors, but not for good. A new, upgraded restaurant will be built on the same location.
Owned and operated by the Gamble family of Humboldt, plans have been in the works for several years to rebuild and upgrade. But along the way, those plans were changed or put on hold.
“We’ve been trying to do this for five years,” said Jeff Gamble. “With Tyson coming in, it’s perfect timing.”
“Our last day of sales will be April 20 at midnight,” son Tyler Gamble said. “We’ll tear down the building on Tuesday, April 24.”
The Gambles are hopeful to have the new McDonald’s open by late July or early August but that will depend on weather and other factors.
This original building was first opened on August 31, 1983. At the time Humboldt was buzzing about finally getting a McDonald’s. Jeff and Laurie Gamble moved their family to Humboldt from Dyersburg, Tenn. Jeff managed the restaurant from day one. In 2003, the Gambles purchased the Humboldt eatery, where they have been a very good corporate citizen to the Strawberry city.
Over the past few years, the Gambles have increased their McDonald’s footprint in West Tennessee, building new stores in Medina and Bells, while purchasing other restaurants in Brownsville and Corinth, Miss. The oldest son, Tyler, is taking a much larger roll in the family business with the multiple locations.
“The new store will be similar to the Medina restaurant but bigger and more modern,” Tyler said. “There will be touch screen games and some sparkle tables that light up when touched. It’s fun for the kids.”
There will be four self-serve kiosks to place orders and the customers’ food will be brought to the table. A McDonald’s staffer will be on hand to assist people taking their orders. But no employee will lose his or her job due to having the kiosks. Kiosks will not replace the friendly, personal service for those who prefer one-on-one service. There will still be employees taking orders at the front counter.
The new store will be quite a bit bigger. The current restaurant is around 3,500 sq.ft. The new McDonald’s will be 4,700 sq.ft. It will have two side-by-side drive thru lanes to place orders. The drive thru will also be digital menu boards like those on the inside.
There will be three windows—one to pay, one to pick up the order and a third pick up window for special orders that may take a little longer to fill. This additional window keeps employees from making special trips outside for those special orders while others are being served at the second window.
“The kitchen will be the first of its kind in this region with a new setup and the latest technology,” Jeff Gamble noted. “The kitchen will be larger and have a conveyor belt for finished sandwiches, moving them to the front, which means less steps for the crew. It’s all about efficiency.”
There will also be larger coolers and freezers, and specialty ovens.
While the current restaurant is being demolished and the new one constructed, the Gambles plan on taking care of their employees during this down time. While the Humboldt restaurant is closed, the staff will have the opportunity to keep jobs at the other Gamble owned McDonald’s.
With the new store coming, there will be a need for more staff. The Gambles will be hiring during construction and will need 75 employees when they open on day-1 including staff and management. So not only will there be a brand new McDonald’s for everyone to enjoy, there are additional opportunities for employment.
As an added bonus, corporate McDonald’s has a program, Archways to Opportunity, that can assist employees with their education.
McDonald’s will allocate $150 million over a five-year period to its global Archways to Opportunity education program, effective May 1, 2018. The program will increase tuition assistance for eligible crew to $2,500 per year, up from $700 per year; managers to $3,000 per year, up from $1,050. The new tuition assistance is effective May 1, 2018 and retroactive to January 1, 2018.
The program lowered eligibility requirements that are already in effect. This change increases access to the program by lowering eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment. In addition, the hours requirement is dropping from 20 hours minimum to 15 hours minimum per week to enable restaurant employees more time to focus on studies.
This program makes working for McDonald’s a lot more enticing by offering education assistance. The Gambles are proud to be able to provide their staff with employment, while offering the ability to help fund their education through the Archways to Opportunity program.
With the closing and demolition of the building that has been a Humboldt landmark for 35 years, the Gambles are ready and thrilled to turn the page and begin the next chapter with a new, upgraded McDonald’s to better serve Humboldt and all their wonderful customers.