If the last time McDonald’s got you in the door was when they declared that “You Deserve a Break Today,” it’s been awhile. But whether the burgers and fries were your favorite teen take-out or you like its healthier 21st century fare, McDonald’s is (still) your kind of place.
The Canyon Country McDonald’s, at 18850 Soledad Canyon Road, just got a $2 million facelift, which residents will see in the middle of this month.
“This is not what most people would think of as a typical McDonald’s,” said Jay Schutz, the owner/operator of several McDonald’s restaurants, including the newly remodeled Canyon Country location. “Elements of the décor and layout are part of the new ‘Vision 2020’ for McDonald’s and they encompass all the newest elements McDonald’s currently offers worldwide.”
The forward design is part of an international rebranding campaign and the famous restaurant’s corporation aims to update all McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. That put the Canyon Country site on the list for a major remodel project.
Closed April 30, construction was supposed to take six weeks and has now exceeded 3 ½ months, Schutz said. “I wasn’t that concerned about closing, but I was very skeptical that the job could be done in six weeks. We did a lot of structural repairs to the building, and there are so many cool elements inside.”
There is a brand new play place, a state-of-the-art outdoor patio, customized wall graphics, Wi-Fi, and customers can step up to a kiosk to place an order. They also included a “fast casual” feature, where you take a number from the kiosk and a server delivers the food to your table.
There are changes to the drive-thru as well. Now the west side has two drive-thru lanes and a pass through, rather than parking. The new quick-service drive thru has a full LED computerized menu board and there’s a mobile ordering feature with curbside pickup. McDonald’s also has Uber Eats scheduled to be released in Santa Clarita this fall, Schutz said.
The hours are changing too. The McDonald’s dining room is open inside from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week, with the drive-thru open until 2 a.m. seven days a week.
“We understand there are a lot of people who work graveyard shifts,” Schutz said, “and since we serve breakfast all day, it will be helpful for them to count on us to be there for them, whenever they need us.”
Much like his restaurants, Schutz needs little down time. He didn’t let a break in operation for construction at the Canyon Country restaurants take his employees out of the workforce. He temporarily moved many of them to the Via Princessa McDonald’s and paid them to do volunteer work at Santa Clarita non-profits. Some of them offered mentoring and tutoring at the Boys and Girls Club, while others assisted at the Senior Center, SCV Food Pantry and Bridge to Home.
“I wanted to retain my employees, because they’re very valuable to me,” Schutz said.
Manager Sergio Rizo has been working for Schutz for 20 years. And McDonald’s is looking for additional team members, said the owner, who said he pays a higher wage — the county standard of $12 an hour. Next July it will go up to $13.25 per hour.
The menu is changing all the time, but there were no specific changes associated with the remodel. “For people who haven’t been to McDonald’s in a long time, the menu will look new to them,” Schutz said. “Our food has no preservatives or hormones or antibiotics … the chicken nuggets are all white breast meat, and we’ll have organic apple juice any day now.”
McDonald’s sells “best in class” Tyson chicken and there is a whole new line of taste-crafted sandwiches. Customers can get fresh Pico de Gallo, fresh guacamole and Sriracha burgers also.
But after the doors open this month, a report from locals that the new McDonald’s offers a “Good Time, Great Taste” isn’t the end game, said forward-thinking Schutz. “Now Via Princessa will undergo its own transformation,” he said.
If you check in with Schutz at the first of the year to ask about the toll of more construction work, remodeling costs and personnel shuffling, it’s possible his answer will have a ring of familiarity to you. Especially if he responds with: “I’m lovin’ it!”