Ground was officially broken Wednesday, December 23, for a new McDonalds restaurant located across from the main entrance of UNC Pembroke.
McDonalds breaks ground – from left: Dr. Diane Jones, UNCP’s vice chancellor for Student Affairs, Pembroke Town Councilman Larry McNeill, Jamie, Lisa, Jordan and Kenneth Rust, Mayor Milton Hunt, Councilman Greg Cummings, Town Manager McDuffie Cummings, Chamber President R.D. Locklear and Chamber Board of Trustees Chair Robert Canida.
Seven years in the making, the restaurant will employ 75 initially and is expected to open March 17, 2005, said Kenneth Rust, owner.
“We started our search in 1997, and it wasn’t until recently that the right piece of property became available,” Rust said. “I will promise you this from our newest restaurant: a quality product served fast by friendly people from a clean restaurant.”
Rust, whose father Randy opened the first area McDonalds in 1973, said McDonalds does not make a community, but “it’s the community that becomes McDonalds.”
A gathering of local officials took it as a good omen that the rain halted and the sun broke out just before ground was broken.
“We thank McDonalds for having confidence in our community,” said Pembroke Mayor Milton Hunt. “You’ve come to the right place, and we think you will do well in this location.”
Mayor Hunt noted that 13,000 cars travel 3rd Street each day. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Diane Jones noted there are 5,000 hungry students at UNCP.
“I can tell you that the students are very excited McDonalds has decided to come here,” Dr. Jones said. “McDonalds has already proven that they are good citizens.”
McDonalds delivered a $5,000 check for the Pembroke Town Park project, which put it over $100,000, said fundraising chair Spenser Howington. The park is located on 3rd Street about a block from the new restaurant.
“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel on this important town improvement project,” Howington said. “Before McDonalds has sold the first hamburger, they have invested in our community. We thank them.”
McDonalds also contributed 10 new scholarships to UNCP, valued at $500 each, Dr. Jones announced. The local franchisee has been a long-time supporter of UNCP’s performing arts series at the Givens Performing Arts Center, and they sponsor a reading program in three elementary schools around Pembroke.
Pembroke Area Chamber of Commerce President R.D. Locklear said Pembroke is a vibrant business community, and the restaurant would give the entire community a lift. Wal-Mart announced it too would open a store in Pembroke in 2005.
“This is one more signal that if you want your business to grow, Pembroke is the place to be,” Locklear said. “This is another