The restaurant known for its 1970s advertising phrase “You deserve a break today” is taking a three-day break in Platteville.
The McDonald’s restaurant at 250 W. Business 151 closed Monday at 2 p.m., almost 23 years after it opened in December 1982.
The new McDonald’s at 1775 Progressive Parkway will open Thursday at 6 a.m.
“Every year the traffic count increases out there, and it looks more and more like it’s the place to go,” said owner Glenn Karpinski. “People in our opinion have accepted the idea of driving a mile or two to do their shopping and so on.”
Plans for the first four days include free Coca~Cola tumblers for the first 100 purchasers of Extra Value Meals Thursday through Sunday. Prizes will be awarded during the first four days of business. Some food purchasers also will get the chance to “Pay with Lovin’,” a promotion introduced during NBC-TV’s Super Bowl XLIX campaign. The grand opening will be held in late September.
The new McDonald’s is located on a bigger lot, with more car and truck parking, and two drive-thru stations. Karpinski, who also owns McDonald’s in Lancaster, Galena and Savanna, Ill., and Dyersville, Maquoketa and DeWitt, Iowa, purchased the property in 2011.
The new McDonald’s has 65 full- and part-time employees, up from 47 at the old restaurant.
The drive-thru is key to Karpinski because while 20 percent of the old McDonald’s business was drive-thru when it opened, drive-thru business totaled 70 percent of its business recently. The drive-thru is open 24 hours a day.
“The biggest change in our business is the menu has gotten much more complete from when I started,” he said. “The second thing is the drive-thru — everything is just speed, speed, speed. The drive-thru has been the biggest driver of our business, and the speed of the drive-thru. We’re doing everything we can with equipment and procedures to speed up the drive-thru.”
What then was U.S. 151 looked different when Karpinski opened Grant County’s first McDonald’s in 1980. Near the 151–Water Street intersection were Country Kitchen and the old Ed’s Café and Shell gas station, along with Pizzeria Uno, but there was no Kentucky Fried Chicken or Taco Bell, and no Dairy Queen at its present location, across Water Street from what then was The Timbers restaurant. What now is The Annex was the former location of Weygant’s Appliance. The Culver’s restaurant chain was four years away from being launched. There were no Walmarts anywhere in Wisconsin.
“The market has definitely gotten more competitive,” said Karpinski, who moved to the area in 1970 and formerly owned the liquor store in McGregor Plaza. “I would say the percentage of competition has increased even more than the population. It’s even more competitive for the dollar now than ever.”
Karpinski plans billboard advertising along U.S. 151 for the new McDonald’s, given that it is closer to 151 than any McDonald’s between Dubuque and Madison.
“We hope to pull a lot of traffic off that highway,” he said. “Platteville is becoming a market for more than just Platteville. We want to be in the center of that market.”
The new McDonald’s and the Sherwin–Williams paint store next door led to a debate in Platteville over waivers of city ordinances requiring sidewalks at new commercial buildings. The new McDonald’s was planned to have a sidewalk on Progressive Parkway, but Karpinski sought a waiver to not install sidewalks on Commercial Drive or East Business 151. The Platteville Common Council March 24 approved a waiver of the sidewalk ordinance for McDonald’s. One month later, on April 28, the council denied a sidewalk waiver for Sherwin–Williams. Then, on July 28, the council reversed its McDonald’s waiver.
“It would have been nice for from the beginning to know what direction we were going,” said Karpinski. “Changing horses in the middle of the stream did cause hardship.”
Karpinski said plans for the old building are “in limbo,” and he plans to “have a discussion of the economics a year from now.”