McDonald’s opens doors again in Niles with much fanfare

Published 7:39 am Friday, November 12, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - McDonald's commercials end with the slogan, "I'm lovin' it!"
Judging from the constant stream of customers who visited the Niles McDonald's, 1203 S. 11th St., during its grand re-opening on Thursday, Niles residents are lovin' having the restaurant back in town.
One man even waited in the drive-thru for about 10 minutes before the store opened to make sure he was he first customer to use the new dual lane drive-thru, the first of its kind in the Michiana area.
The grand re-opening festivities began at 11 a.m. when firefighters from the Niles City Fire Department raised the store's flag in honor of Veteran's Day.
Niles resident Bob Mills, owner of Mills Prestige Portraits, 21 S. St. Joseph Ave., was asked to sing the National Anthem during the flag raising.
An official ribbon cutting ceremony put on by the Niles Chamber of Commerce followed the raising, with Lax and Niles Mayor Michael McCauslin cutting the ribbon.
In addition to the new dual lane drive-thru, the new store features state of the art equipment in the kitchen, a fireplace and flat-panel high definition television in the lobby, and a "treehouse" play place for children.
Kids were busy enjoying the new attraction, which is only the second of its kind in North America.
The new store is smaller than the old one, but the cherry wood accents and the warm colors give the store a more at-home feeling.
The Niles McDonald's isn't the first new store Lax has opened as store manager either. She also opened the Buchanan location in 2002.
But people have been anxious to get their Niles McDonald's back since it burned down May 3, when a heating device which was being used to thaw a frozen pipe started a fire in the back of the store.
Perhaps none missed the store more than Theora Keeys, Frank Kalin, Rob Grouch, and Richard Flint.
Before the fire, the four retirees met at McDonald's for coffee and breakfast almost every morning for over 10 years. The group even had a reserved table at the old store, they said.
So where did the group go during the six months from the destruction of the old building to the re-opening of the new store?
They spent most of their mornings at the Buchanan McDonald's, sometimes straying to Hardee's or Burger King for the occasional lunch meal.
The general consensus of the group regarding the new store was positive. "It's a really good atmosphere," Grouch said.
But what keeps the quartet coming back every morning for coffee and breakfast?
Here's to new beginnings and old friends, McDonald's is back.