MILLINOCKET, Maine — From the moment he bought it in November 2007, Gary Eckmann saw that the McDonald’s restaurant off Route 157 required major work.
“To make this building as successful as it could be, we had to do something dramatic,” Eckmann said. “The building was 33 years old. It needed a complete remodeling or we could have replaced it altogether with something that would make it fresh.”
An owner of seven other McDonald’s restaurants around Maine, including outlets in Bangor, Brewer and Dover-Foxcroft, Eckmann opted for the latter and reopened Friday after about 110 days of demolition and construction.
The Katahdin region’s sole McDonald’s, the $1.5 million building is new from the depths of its foundation to the heights of its golden arches. One of only about seven revitalized McDonald’s in Maine, the Millinocket store features what the international fast-food giant calls its “Forever Young” motif.
The largest makeover in the franchise’s 51-year history, it’s a lean, boxy, vaguely 1950s-ish design that highlights airy open spaces, rock-festooned walls, a flat roof and earth-toned tiling.
The restaurant also has larger greenscapes and energy-efficient climate and lighting con-trols that should significantly reduce the store’s energy usage.
Most of the menu is still burgers and fries, but trendy new menu items spice things up. Cappuc-cinos, mochas and lattes complement the store’s standard Newman’s Own coffees. Southern-style chicken biscuits, snack wraps, yogurt parfaits and Fruit ’n’ Walnut salads are other additions.
Customers on Friday liked the new look, and Town Manager Eugene Conlogue liked Eck-mann’s investment in town.
“It’s a major commitment to this area and a significant business,” Conlogue said Friday.
McDonald’s and Eckmann also made dona-tions to the Millinocket Police Department’s D.A.R.E. program and the Katahdin Rotary Club’s Jerry Pond revitalization effort.
“It’s very nice and cheery,” said Nadine Clark, 83, of Medway. “I expected it would be smaller than this.”
“It’s really important to this town’s business,” said Norma Tardiff, 82, of Millinocket. “This is going to get a lot of business during ski and snowmobile season.”
Millinocket has several homestyle eateries, including Angelo’s Pizza, Appalachian Trail Cafe, Hang Wong and Scootic Inn, but the Katahdin region has but one other chain restau-rant, a Subway franchise store across Route 157 from McDonald’s.
Noyes Construction of Bangor was the proj-ect’s general contractor, but most of the subcon-tractors were from Millinocket. They included Michael J. Brown Custom Builders, which did the framing and interiors; plumber Mike Mar-quis; Natalie Bosse, who wallpapered; Emery Lee, who did demolition and excavation; and Jandreau’s Greenhouse, which handled land-scaping.
“We were very fortunate to get that amount of work and keep that much money in town,” said Ron Preo of Brown Custom Builders.