Almost exactly one year after an electrical fire ripped through the Doylestown McDonald’s on North Main Street, the popular restaurant is set to reopen Sept. 17, said Ron Gentile, who co-owns the restaurant with his daughter, Audra Gentile-Catullo.
The new building is 14 feet closer to the road than it was previously, as it needed to be relocated away from an underground stream that flows beneath the property. As a result there was no longer room in the front to replace the iconic “playland” area that a couple of generations of kids had spent time climbing and sliding on.
“We really didn’t want to take out playland,” said Gentile, “but we couldn’t put it back the way it was.”
Instead, in sync with the times, the restaurant will feature four computers at regular dining tables, each loaded with about 1,000 games, Gentile said. “I don’t think the play area will be missed … (computers) are what kids are interested in today,” he said.
McDonald’s restaurants across the country are being renovated with a “bigger, bolder vision,” Gentile said. “We are always reinventing ourselves” to keep current with changing trends.
The new Doylestown restaurant will now have two drive-thru windows, he explained, adding that 73 percent of his business is done at the drive-thru.
Originally built in 1977, the Gentiles have owned the restaurant for the past 20 years. They also own McDonald’s in Warrington, New Hope and Plumsteadville. The New Hope and Plumsteadville locations will be getting “facelifts” in 2020, said Gentile.
The fire that occurred on Sept. 18, was caught on the security system’s cameras, leaving no question that it was electrical. “As it went through,” said Gentile, “it melted everything.”
No one was injured, as the restaurant was closed and all the staff had left about an hour before the blaze broke out at about 1 a.m. It took firefighters until approximately 5 a.m. to extinguish the fire, Gentile remembered.