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What happened to McDonald's?
Cumming eatery razed, will be rebuilt
mcdonalds down 3 jd
The McDonald’s on Atlanta Highway near Cumming will be closed for about three months as crews work to rebuild the location from the ground up. - photo by Jim Dean

Got a hankering for a Big Mac, Filet-o-Fish or McNuggets?

If you live or work in Cumming, you’ll have to drive a little bit out of your way for a while to satisfy those fast-food cravings.

The McDonald’s on Atlanta Highway will be closed for about three months as crews work to rebuild the location from the ground up.

Franchisee Keith Muller, who also owns the other McDonald’s locations in Forsyth and several in surrounding counties, said crews demolished the site over the weekend. They left nothing but a large pile of rubble, which was hauled away early this week.

For neighboring businesses, the demolition came as a bit of a surprise.

Mary Dallas, an employee of nearby Humpus Bumpus Books, also on Atlanta Highway, at first thought the eatery had been torn down due to a fire or some other incident.

"I don’t eat there, but I was amazed to see it razed like that," she said.

Justin Abernathy, manager of Lanier Tire and Wheel next door to the eatery, said the closure may pose some problems for his employees, many of whom are frequent customers.

"When we’re busy, it’s nice and convenient," he said. "It’s probably not the healthiest food in the world, but it is convenient."

The McDonald’s site has a long history in Forsyth.

Muller said it was opened by his father in October 1974, making it the first McDonald’s and the third fast-food restaurant in the county. It was preceded only by Dairy Queen near the downtown square and a Tasty Freeze, which has since closed.

It was one of the first McDonald’s in metro Atlanta, Muller said, to test what was then a new concept — the drive-thru window.

"Obviously, that worked out well for them," he said, noting the store also helped test several other products for the company over the years, including a fried bone-in chicken that didn’t make it to the permanent menu and the current Southern style chicken filet sandwich.

Muller said he thought it was the right time to "step up to the plate" and rebuild the facility into something that can better "handle the needs of the community."

"McDonald’s is revitalizing its image and going with a forever young type of style that’s a lot more contemporary," Muller said.

"They introduced this new building about four or five years ago. The goal is to take the older of these stores and make them more modernized."

Muller said the new restaurant will also be more "green friendly."

"There’ll be features that allow us to use less water and power. It’ll be a lot more efficient," he said, noting there will also be more energy conservative light fixtures and plastics made from recycled materials.

The look of the restaurant will be similar to the McDonald’s location on Windermere Parkway in south Forsyth, which Muller opened three years ago.

And like the Windermere location, the new Cumming site also will offer a side-by-side drive-thru system.

"That makes service a lot faster," Muller said.

The interior dining area will have a slightly smaller capacity, but a more contemporary and modern décor," and will offer "more flexibility" for large group seating.

The new store will also feature an indoor playground area, allowing year- round use.

Muller said the employees of the location are either taking vacations during the closure or floating to other McDonald’s sites he owns.

"We’re making sure everyone still gets hours," Muller said. "We might not be able to guarantee 40 hours every week, it might be more like 30, but we’re making sure everyone is still able to work."

He said customers have had mixed reactions to the closure.

"A lot of them are excited about the new facility, but there are some regulars — like the large breakfast club we have — that were irritated a little bit," Muller said.

Customers can visit one of several other locations in Forsyth, including one at Hwys. 9 and 141, which Muller said is probably the next closest to Cumming.

But at Lanier Tire and Wheel, Baker said he and his crew may just pursue options over the next three months.

"Their McDonald’s fix ain’t going to be there for a while," he said.