Supersized Opening

Published 11:23 am Thursday, July 16, 2009

CHESAPEAKE — It was pomp, circumstance and a passion for Mickey D’s finest that brought the crowd to the opening of the “new” McDonald’s in Chesapeake Wednesday.

Close to four months ago owner Steve Cielec tore down the existing restaurant that had stood on the site off U.S. 52 since December 1976 to build a new facility that topped the $2 million price tag.

By 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night Zach Jenkins and his buddies, Jake Kelley, Mike Vaughn and Charlie Gill, all of South Point, had staked out their place at the front door.

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“We’ve been here for 12 hours,” Jenkins said as the foursome waited for the 10:30 a.m. opening of the restaurant where a line of customers snaked through the parking lot.

The first thing on his agenda was a chicken sandwich.

“If they were serving breakfast, it would be biscuits,” Jenkins said.

By midnight Tuesday they got the word they weren’t supposed to be on the property yet, so they sauntered next door to Taco Bell and camped out on a parking lot bench until 6 a.m.

Soon after they got back to the head of the line they were joined by Joe Thompson and Richard Hamlin, both of South Point.

Thompson had already had his McDonald’s for the morning, stopping off at the restaurant at the Wal-Mart in South Point for two cups of coffee and a biscuit. But he was looking for more.

“I’m waiting to see if I can get some good ole hot coffee,” Thompson said.

That, plus as one of the first 100 customers, Thompson got a coupon for one sandwich a week for the next year.

But before the state-of-the-art restaurant was ready to welcome its first customers, there were some formalities to attend to. The VFW Post 6878 of Proctorville offered a 21-gun salute as the flag in front of the restaurant was raised.

It took 102 days for the new restaurant to emerge from the site of the razed McDonald’s. The new place, like the old, seats 65. But this time the restaurant offers features that make the job easier for employees.

“With this restaurant it is set up for better service to the customer,” Cielec said. “I’m excited.”