Vehicles began lining up in the new Marble Falls McDonald’s drive-through lanes at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, a full 10 hours before the official reopening of the fast-food restaurant following its demolition and rebuild.
By 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, 30 minutes before the eatery opened for business, cars in both drive-through lanes stretched back to RR 1431 as people hoped to get a coveted “Be Our Guest” card, which entitles the recipient to a year’s worth of free Big Macs. McDonald’s staff handed out the last card at 7:34 a.m.
“They missed McDonald’s,” franchise owner Maria Lim said with grin. “In the first hour, we served 64 cars. That’s double of what we normally see in the first hour. We love our customers. They’re very loyal, and we appreciate them. This building is for them. They can enjoy it.”
Lim closed the Marble Falls location in late January so crews could demolish the 31-year-old building and build a new one in the same spot, 1605 RR 1431 next to H-E-B. It only took 105 days.
On opening day, Lim worked alongside employees, helping to serve 319 vehicles before 11 a.m. The lobby and dining area weren’t open due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the rebuild comes not only a new look but also a more efficient layout and equipment.
The kitchen is designed for quicker transactions between staff and customers. A new feature is a conveyor belt to move food from prep to bagging.
“McDonald’s tries to be more efficient,” Lim said. “It’s always about counting steps and how quick can we get food to our customers.”
Another big change, one customers noticed immediately, is a second drive-through lane. The previous building only had one. The drive-through also has three windows: the first one to pay, the second to pick up food, and the third for large orders so as not to hold up the line for customers with smaller ones.
“I definitely wanted them,” Lim said. “(Corporate) gave us the options for newer buildings depending on the size of the lot and if we could fit the third window. Why not? It makes sense.”
When people are able to dine in, they can walk up to the counter to order or do so at one of two kiosk machines.
“It makes it easier to customize things,” Lim said.
She added that shields will be installed at the counter to separate employee from customer and stickers will be placed on the floor to ensure social distancing is followed.
The dining area can seat 60 people. A video game table inside will entertain younger patrons. The rebuild does not have a playground.
Lim said she was given a choice of six portfolios or designs for the lobby and chose one that best illustrates the city. It will be different from the Burnet location, which Lim also owns.
“I’m very proud of the lobby we built,” she said. “I went all out. I’m a big tech person, and it creates efficiency, so why not?”
McDonald’s franchise business partner Frank Pedrique, who traveled from Dallas to be at the Marble Falls location’s reopening, noted how technology has changed the way people order and pay for food.
“It helps give customers what they want,” he said. “It’s everyday life, and business is evolving. Businesses adapt.”
Lim said Wednesday was better than expected and gave credit to both employees and customers.
“It’s so exciting, it’s very exciting,” she said. “It takes 105 days to build a McDonald’s. Everyone has been waiting anxiously for us to reopen from the time we tore down. It’s time to welcome them back.”