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Published: Saturday, 1/3/2004

McDonald s closes its downtown food outlet

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Downtown workers and residents looking for a shot of McDonald s coffee to help launch the new year were met instead with a “closed” sign yesterday.

The fast-food outlet closed quietly on Wednesday. By yesterday morning, the “McDonald s Express” sign that was hung with fanfare in July, 1995, had been taken down.

A corporate manager in Columbus said the company has been phasing out its McDonald s Express stores because they are not profitable enough. He said Toledo s was the last of 10 in his district, which includes most of Ohio and a portion of Kentucky.

The store was located at Adams and Huron streets in a building on the site of the former Downtown Variety store, which was destroyed by fire in 1993.

The city assisted the developer, Adams-Huron Investments, with a low-interest loan of $140,000, forgiving $40,000 as an incentive grant for the construction.

The loan is being repaid at the rate of $1,115 a month, according to city Director of Development Steven Seaton. The city holds a first mortgage on the property. McDonald s Corp. leases the building and subleased it to the franchiser.

“They ve just not panned out to be what the typical McDonald s customers typically want to do,” said Rick Beck, manager of strategic development for McDonald s Ohio region in Columbus. “It s not the same standard, menu, comfort level. That s the last remaining one in our region.”

At 1,400 square feet, the store was about a third the size of a typical McDonald s. It was closed on weekends and holidays and evenings, and recently was closing at 3 p.m.

Franchise owner Kenneth DeLine, who operates a McDonald s at Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park, could not be reached yesterday for comment.

John Shousher, general partner of Adams-Huron Investments, said the closing came as a surprise to him. He said the franchiser had talked to him about four months ago about possibly expanding the store, but nothing came of it.

“He told me he s losing money and they re giving it up and it s the last day,” Mr. Shousher said.

Mr. Beck noted that McDonald s has other near-downtown locations on Cherry Street and at Front and Main streets, and that the company has spent about $3 million in the last year on improvements to Toledo McDonald s restaurants.

“We re certainly not turning our back on Toledo in any way,” Mr. Beck said.

McDonald s lease has two years, Mr. Shousher said. But he said he would work to find a new occupant for the building, which is located at a busy central business district location.



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