BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE
STRAWBRIDGE — A McDonald’s that was heavily damaged by fire last summer is back in business in the Strawbridge-Red Mill area, where a sign under golden arches along General Booth Boulevard read:
The McDonald’s was damaged when the driver of a van at the intersection of General Booth Boulevard and London Bridge Roads suffered a medical emergency and crashed into a vehicle, then the restaurant, igniting a fire.
It caused extensive damage, and four people went to the hospital, according to media reports at the time.
Among other things, the grand opening celebrated emergency responders and Frances Stonum, a citizen who courageously pulled two people from the van.
While some passersby may see a link in a fast food chain, those at the reopened McDonald’s said there’s much more to a place that has now returned staff members, many of whom had been at other McDonald’s, to their workplace and customers.
People may “see the arches and say, ‘Oh, that’s McDonald’s,’ but this is a family business,” said owner Paul Smith, an Ashville Park resident, during the grand re-opening in December. “We thank everybody in the community for being patient and for wanting us back.”
He and his family own five McDonald’s restaurants in Virginia Beach. Smith started with McDonald’s as a trainee 43 years ago, rising through the ranks as a manager in corporate locations before becoming an owner of a restaurant. This location became their second store in 1992, he said.
Customer Nury Kleinberg, who lives at Sullivan House nearby, greeted Smith.
“You’re the owner,” she said. “I saw you on TV. I almost cried with you.”
“That was a sad day,” Smith said. “This is a glad day.”
A moment later, she sat in the redone dining room and said she was happy to have the McDonald’s back.
“A lot of people from my complex come here,” she said. “I wish them the best.”
© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC