Starting on Monday, August 19, lovers of Happy Meals were probably jumping up and down when they saw construction finally going on at the old McDonalds site near the corner of Encinitas Boulevard at El Camino Real.
The 40-year-old restaurant burned down on September 1, 2011, due to a gas leak in the kitchen. No one was hurt in the blast, even through five customers were still enjoying their meals at the time. The five employees working helped them get to safety. Fully engulfed in flames by the time the fire department arrived, the building was a total loss. See previously published Reader story.
The new McDonalds will be just a little bigger, about 500 square feet larger than the former building. The redesign and upgrades will include a modern façade, double drive-through, and an outdoor patio. The building will be freestanding, unlike the old restaurant that was connected to neighboring businesses (which also suffered smoke and water damage.)
Due to the loss in the community of this popular McDonalds, city planners expedited planning approval. The remodel plans were submitted around February of last year, and approved two months later.
Then why the construction delay of almost a year and a half? Parts of the center's buildings and land are owned by four separate investment entities. All four had to agree on the plan for the new building and its affect on other center businesses. Reportedly, disagreements between the four center owners was frustrating not only to the city, but franchisees Kris and Matthew Schulz.
It is expected the restaurant will reopen in the fall of this year. Being closed for almost two years, none of the current crop of the Happy Meal crowd will remember old play structure that was inside. It will not be returning in the new design.