Derby McDonald’s reopens after makeover
DERBY >> A grand reopening of the famous golden arches on Division Street was celebrated with families, fanfare and french fries.
More than 250 people braved the frigid temperatures outside the McDonald’s restaurant at 44 Division St. to welcome the fast-food eatery back after a brief hiatus.
The eatery closed in late September for a $2 million makeover that owner/operator Joe Rodriguez said has been more than four decades in the making.
“It’s been a long time coming for this rebuild, but after 43 years, we pulled it off,” Rodriguez said.
The bigger and better McDonald’s is more than 4,000 square feet, includes two drive-thru windows to help expedite service, video games projected onto the tables for kids to play, and fully digitized menus.
Pal Construction of Coventry was in charge of the reboot, and also handled renovations at Rodriguez’s McDonald’s in Bristol.
Rodriguez said the renovation created 50-70 new jobs, and is expected to increase the customer base by 25-30 percent.
The celebration included the Derby High School band, cheerleaders and football players, along with Derby Middle School’s championship cross-country team and the local elementary schools, leading the crowd in patriotic and holiday tunes.
A late arrival was NFL player David Tyree of the New York Giants, whose claim to fame is the “miraculous helmet catch” he made back in 2008 which broke the New England Patriots’ 18-0 winning streak.
Tyree was scheduled to appear at the celebration early on, but arrived later after getting caught in traffic.
Rodriguez, who owns 25 stores, was joined by Ronald McDonald himself, along with Mayor Anita Dugatto, Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti and former Derby Mayor Anthony Staffieri, along with a host of veterans and other local dignitaries.
Rodriguez handed out several checks ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 to local schools and veterans’ and church organizations.
Dugatto recalled her early days at the eatery.
“I came to McDonald’s as a high school student, and here we are today celebrating its rebirth,” said Dugatto.
“Thanks so much for being part of our Derby family.”
Cassetti said McDonald’s was one of his favorite hangouts as a kid. He attended the event with his 11-year-old son, David, who was anxious to dig into his Chicken McNuggets.
“I was 12 years old in 1972 and had my first Big Mac here, and today at 56 years old, I’m having my second Big Mac,” Cassetti said.
Staffieri, who is good friends with the Rodriguez family, was thrilled to attend the reopening.
“This is the Valley ... family and friends, and that’s what McDonald’s stands for,” Staffieri said.
Ansonia resident Edward Musante said the Big Macs and hot cakes are as delicious as ever at the new, modernized facility.
“It’s a nice update. I like it,” said Musante.
DHS students Javier Varas, 15, and Jason Peters, 16, both in the school band, said they like the clean, updated look of the new facility.
“I came here with my family a lot when I was younger, and I think it’s definitely a step up from what it was,” Javier said.