The last remaining Big Mac haven in this part of the borough is getting an extensive facelift.
But at the moment, there’s still a gaping hole in the ground next to the McDonald’s at 5765 Broadway, which has been shut down for at least several weeks. In the meantime, excavation and plumbing work is taking place there, according to the city’s buildings department.
Although the city agency received an initial application for renovating the Kingsbridge restaurant last October, the restaurant’s owner — Chris Trefz of the Trefz Corp. — still hasn’t submitted a completed application, spokesman Andrew Rudansky said.
Quite a few hamburger lovers’ hearts were broken in 2017 when Trefz’s Marble Hill McDonald’s shut down. That restaurant enjoyed a healthy decade or so run after opening in 2002.
That really leaves only the Kingsbridge location left, at least in this part of the borough.
McDonald’s meanwhile, says that restaurant is being rebuilt to implement self-order kiosks, among other upgrades, and that the company and its franchisees actually are pouring $320 million into revamping 360 of their New York restaurants.
But the big question probably gnawing at the grumbling bellies of some neighbors, local workers, commuters, parents and their Happy Meal-craving little ones, is when the restaurant will actually reopen.
At the moment, 5765 Broadway has just one active work permit on file with the buildings department, for excavation and plumbing work involving storm drainage piping and yard drains at the property, Rudansky said. That work is associated with an environmental protection department sewer connection.
Trefz still needs to submit a completed project application to the buildings department, the spokesman said, before any other work can begin.
But it’s actually not uncommon for developers and owners to submit an incomplete application to DOB — knowing it won’t be approved — so that the department can take a look at it, Rudansky said, giving the owner a chance to discuss specific construction questions with buildings officials.
In fact, the buildings department may examine a plan for a project such as Trefz’s several times before approving it, Rudansky added. Trefz’s project in particular would require a new certificate of occupancy from the buildings department.
But the fast food juggernaut explains what’s happening at the Broadway location a bit differently.
Trefz’s McDonald’s is being rebuilt from the ground up to reflect the company’s “new restaurant experience,” which puts more emphasis on hospitality by adding a healthy dose of technology, McDonald’s spokeswoman Amanda Pisano said. One highlight of the renovations — once they’re complete — will be those order kiosks. Customers also can look forward to table service, mobile ordering and curbside pickup — all allowing them to “customize their meals,” and kick back while employees flip their burgers onto buns.
Part of the existing restaurant will be demolished as part of the project, with construction expected to take several months, Pisano said. The company partners with franchisees on “modernization projects” like the one happening in Kingsbridge, she added, but wouldn’t elaborate on the kinds of incentives or benefits corporate offers for such initiatives.
In fact, major construction is anticipated to begin as early as this week, a McDonald’s spokeswoman told The Riverdale Press.
McDonald’s announced its statewide renovation project last August, which would pump an average of around $900,000 each into hundreds of restaurants. What that means is revamped dining rooms with both “globally and locally inspired décor,” new furniture, and spruced up exterior designs, the company said.
And those hyped-up digital self-order kiosks will make it even easier for guests to order exactly what they want and how they like it.
There also will be digital menu boards both inside the establishments and at the drive-thru, plus designated parking spots for mobile order curbside pickup. Remodeled counters, meanwhile, will pave the way for table service — just like at a more formal restaurant, but without saying goodbye to classic fast-food comfort.
And McCafé counters will be bigger, with larger display cases, too.
“This is an exciting time at McDonald’s,” said Paul Hendel — who owns and operates a McDonald’s himself and is president of the New York Tri-State Owner/Operators Association — in a release. But in addition to totally revamping customers’ burger outings, the construction and upgrades at all those franchises around the state “support local construction, design and engineering jobs.”
And it appears Trefz himself is no less enthusiastic about what’s taking shape on Broadway. That restaurant actually goes way back. In fact, Trefz traces its roots to the mid-1970s. His family has owned it since the latter part of that decade, although Trefz himself purchased it more recently, he said.
What he — as well as McDonald’s — really wants to do is give customers an “experience of the future.”
“We are trying to make our restaurants look more relevant and more current,” Trefz told The Riverdale Press. “The restaurants of old” with their iconic shades of red and white “have been around for quite a number of years,” and it’s basically time to shake things up a bit.
Similar to diners at hundreds of other restaurants statewide that are undergoing upgrades, customers at the Kingsbridge joint can expect a rebuilt dining room, kitchen and restrooms, along with a smattering of spots from which to place their orders, and employees taking orders as well.
“Basically, the whole restaurant,” along with its exterior, will “be pretty much a new building altogether,” Trefz said, although its footprint will remain unchanged.
And while he wouldn’t divulge details of total construction costs, the grand reopening is slated probably for some time in July.
“It’s always exciting to give our customers a new, clean, fresh restaurant, and to bring the latest and the greatest of what McDonald’s has to offer,” he said. “I’ve grown up in the McDonald’s business. We’re a people business, and we happen to sell hamburgers.
“Each restaurant is like a piece of the community. It’s great to make people smile every day. And we can’t wait to reopen.”