HARRISBURG -- Southern Illinois' newest McDonald's opened early Thursday morning in Harrisburg, and some earlybirds got a sneak peek at the new restaurant at an open house Wednesday night.
At the open house, John Moreland and his wife Mary greeted members of the community and gave tours of the reopened business. Moreland is president of Moreland/Bishop McDonalds, which owns a number of McDonald's franchises.
In August, the old building was demolished to make way for the new one.
On Monday, Moreland gave the Harrisburg Register/Eldorado Journal a tour of the new building as well, highlighting some of the newest features the restaurant offers as contractors finished interior work.
One of the most visible innovations are free-standing kiosks with large vertical touch screens. A customer can use the kiosk to place an order, or can order at the counter in the traditional fashion.
In either case, the customer receives a small order "tent" which contains a Bluetooth-connected locator. This will show the crew member delivering the order where the customer is seated in the restaurant via another electronic screen.
At the counter, large high-definition screens with vivid color display the menu, and the custom interior of the restaurant offers upscale yet natural stone and wood elements. A large couch in one area sits on one side of a table area, and nearly every dining location has an electrical outlet nearby. The modern outlets contain two traditional electrical plug-ins plus a USB socket that may be used to charge electronic devices. Free Wi-Fi also is available.
Customers who prefer to stay in vehicles may take advantage of the spacious double-lane drive-through. Moreland said the new drive-through is designed to perform at an average of 20 seconds per car from the time an order is placed until it is delivered.
Another feature designed with speed in mind is a food conveyor in the kitchen area, which delivers a finished sandwich. Previously, cooks would deliver the sandwiches to a holding area by hand. It's only a matter of a few steps and seconds, but those extra steps and seconds add up, Moreland said. The conveyor system improves efficiency.
The new larger building also features a PlayPlace where children can burn energy while their accompanying adults relax at the surrounding tables.
Moreland said the new store employs about 90, about 25 more than it did before rebuilding.
At the open house Wednesday, Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek offered remarks on the store's reopening.
"Let me set the scene. The time period was the late 1970s, a much simpler time than today. Every child between the ages of 3 and 8 couldn't wait to get a Happy Meal. The city of Harrisburg welcomed McDonald's Restaurant into our city limits," McPeek said. "At that time, Mayor McCheese would be imparting this welcome, along with Ronald McDonald, the Hamburglar, Grimace and the Fry Guys. Mayor McCheese was unavailable to speak tonight, but I am Mayor McPeek."
He praised the company for innovations in menu selections and utilizing new technology to better improve the dining experience. He also had kind words for businesses bringing a new look to existing operations.
"This new, modern facility is just one more example of our local businessowners making the city of Harrisburg look outstanding. We've had several businesses over the last year renovate or rebuild their facilities," he said. "These improvements make Harrisburg look cleaner and up-to-date with the current times. It takes the cooperation of the city officials, business owners and the citizens to keep Harrisburg growing and attract new industry to our city."
Moreland said he's ready for the public to see the new store.
"We're so excited for the city of Harrisburg and for all the crew, of course," Moreland said. "Although we put almost of them to work in our other locations, which was a big help. We're just excited for the citizens of Harrisburg and the surrounding area that they'll have a nice place to come to eat."