• 52°

Truck stop gets new boss, name

Workers at the Plaza 52 Restaurant are moving forward with a new leaseholder this week after bidding farewell to their former employer.

Wednesday, October 04, 2000

Workers at the Plaza 52 Restaurant are moving forward with a new leaseholder this week after bidding farewell to their former employer.

Randy McDonald, the eatery’s former manager, was awarded a new contract by the landowner – Marathon-Ashland Petroleum Inc. – to continue providing hot meals to hungry customers.

Willa Mae Farmer, McDonald’s mother and the restaurant’s former owner, ended her more than 20-year career in the restaurant business, McDonald said.

"Mother retired last week and I continued working to receive a lease agreement over the weekend because I did not want to close the doors," McDonald said. "The restaurant will continue to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re planning to have the breakfast specials during the mornings and at midnight."

Topping the list of changes will be the name of the restaurant, he said.

"The name of the business will change to be the Plaza instead of the Plaza 52 Restaurant," he said. "We will also be adding a couple of booths and several payphones for the truckers."

The inside of the eatery is expected to change, too, he added.

"In a few weeks, the inside look will change to a Nascar look," McDonald said. "We will be doing away with our Pepsi products and going with Coke for the Nascar theme. We’ll also start serving an ‘A-grade’ custom coffee and it is supposed to be the best on the market. We’ve always been known for the best coffee in the Tri-State and we want that (reputation) back."

Other noted changes include the number of employees at the Plaza, he said.

And, he said two individuals have been hired to improve customer service.

"We have increased our employees by two and we’re looking to hire two more within a week," he said. "In several weeks, we are planning to hire three additional employees. By the time business is built back to what it once was, I’ll have 18 people working full-time."

McDonald said plans for a local catering business will begin taking shape in the not-so-distant future.

"Hopefully around Christmas or shortly afterward, we would like to start a catering business that would operate out of the restaurant," he said. "Right here in this vicinity, there’s no one that provides that kind of service. And, the catering would provide the same home-cooked meals the restaurant provides."

McDonald said he is working to keep prices the same, even with all the new improvements.

"We have a lot of hard work ahead of us in building back the business mother once had here, but I know we can do it. I’m taking this restaurant back to the way it used to be back in the 1960s."