MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Plans to demolish McDonald's in Martinsburg's south end on Apple Harvest Drive to make way for a new McDonald's also include the demolition of a neighboring motel.
The Krista Lite Motel will be torn down and the lot it currently sits on near Exit 12 of Interstate 81 will be elevated and graded to the level of the McDonald's property to make way for the new, larger restaurant, said Susan Erwin, who owns the McDonald's business.
"We're tripling the size of the parking and tripling the size of the building," Erwin said. "Our crew can't wait."
Customer seating in the restaurant is expected to increase from 72 to more than 100, and parking is proposed to increase from 29 spaces to more than 90, Erwin said.
The number of employees, which now stands at 65, also could increase depending on business growth, Erwin said.
A larger drive-through should help address safety concerns for customers who sometimes are backed up into the intersection of Apple Harvest Drive, and the front of the new building will face in the direction of the Winchester & Western Railroad and be more parallel to the busy road, Erwin said.
The redevelopment project at 14634 Apple Harvest Drive is part of a coordinated effort by McDonald's Restaurants to enhance its image, according to a news release from the company.
McDonald's anticipates the completion of 600 remodeling projects and 200 rebuilds in 2011, according to the release.
Erwin, who also operates the other two Martinsburg McDonald's locations, said there has been talk for several years about rebuilding or relocating the north-end restaurant on Eagle School Road, but no decision has been made.
After 14 years, the lease for the McDonald's location in Walmart at Martinsburg Mall is not being renewed and is slated to close at the end of January 2012, Erwin said.
Erwin said the day she says goodbye to the Apple Harvest Drive restaurant that her father, Charles Keene, built 30 years ago will be bittersweet.
"It's going to be kind of sad ... on a personal level because my dad built this store, so seeing it demolished will be kind of hard," Erwin said.
Only the tall McDonald's high-rise sign will remain standing — at about 120 feet — when the new restaurant opens, Erwin said.
The Apple Harvest Drive McDonald's was expanded three times since it opened in 1981, Erwin said.
Erwin was a manager trainee working for her father at the time.
"My dad got into McDonald's in 1968 out of the Army," Erwin said.
Erwin remembered her father taking her when she was about 5 years old to a McDonald's, where he went to learn about the franchise.
After being given an apple pie and an orange drink, Erwin said her father, who had been a master sergeant in the Army, told her to stay put on the sack of potatoes where he had her sit.
Erwin said her father always wanted a "hamburger joint," and the business expanded to six locations before he retired in 2000.
Erwin said her mother, Una, was the restaurant "hostess" for many years.
"It was their baby," Erwin said.
Her father first purchased the north Martinsburg location in 1979, which helped make way for the addition of McDonald's locations at Valley Mall in Halfway in 1982; Inwood, W.Va. in 1989; Massey Boulevard in Halfway in 1990; Shepherdstown, W.Va. in 1993; and Walmart in Martinsburg in 1998.
A location at Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester, Va., closed about a year after it opened in 1996, Erwin said.
When her father retired, the family sold three of the six remaining locations and her two brothers, who had been working alongside her in the family business, branched out to do other things, Erwin said.
Among many employees who went on to accomplish bigger things are West Virginia state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, and former Berkeley County Commissioner Howard L. Strauss, Erwin said.
Unger worked for Erwin at the Apple Harvest Drive location while he was in high school, she said.
"He was a good biscuit maker," Erwin said.
Erwin said she actually was Strauss' first assistant. Strauss worked at locations in Hagerstown and Martinsburg.
"He taught me a lot of good stuff," Erwin said, laughing.