NEW BRITAIN â The new-look of McDonaldâs has arrived in New Britain.
âMy success is based on who I have,â said Keith Santacroce, owner and operator of the New Brite Plaza restaurant. âMy family first at home supports me; they deal with the long, hard hours and motivate me. My team here, theyâre all warriors; I have a management team with over 200 years of collective McDonaldâs experience, a crew training team with over 50 years of McDonaldâs experience and a crew that runs the gamut from brand new to 17 plus years. We can accomplish nothing without them and I want to thank them dearly.â
Santacroce and McDonaldâs representatives welcomed everyone from city and state representatives to members of the community to the occasion honoring the complete rebuild and fresh updates at the 40 Martin Luther King Drive location.
âThis is the third busiest McDonaldâs in the state of Connecticut, but Keith has been an amazing owner. He is attentive to the property, really cares about his staff and the people he serves here, and I think that speaks a lot about him as a business owner,â Mayor Erin Stewart said. âSo Iâm really thrilled for him to be making these upgrades and investments to give people that come to the New Brite McDonaldâs a better experience.â
According to Santacroce, this was a company-wide project called âExperience of the Future.â The process began back in 2017 and construction for this location began in early summer of 2022. Though the financial burden was on Santacroce, McDonaldâs corporate did help with the cost as well.
âMcDonaldâs corporate is the best corporate partnership that you could ask for,â Santacroce said. âIf I ever have a need and I reach out, theyâre there; if I have an issue, it gets fixed.â
There were major changes done to the interior and exterior of the restaurant. The entire front of the house, including restrooms, were demolished and redone. New flooring, tables, chairs, counters and systems were put in, as well as updates to the parking lot.
âThe hardest thing for me was closing those doors for those five weeks,â Santacroce said. âWe did offer drive-thru and curbside. And while the back entrance to the parking lot was closed we had everyone enter through the front entrance and formed a U shape and made it work. But my biggest concern was the folks across the street, so we adapted and had them order through the app and walk into the curbside spots.â
The newest and highly utilized feature at the restaurant is the kiosks.
âWe never had kiosks before,â said Melissa Melendez, Human Resource manager. âAnd we have at least 75% of people using them, which has made us crazy busy.â
âWe got great feedback about the kiosks, especially from mothers with small kids and strollers; it helps them feel like theyâre not in the way or holding people up,â Santacroce said. âAlso I think itâs great because itâs interactive and the kids are able to help their parents order and they enjoy it.â
Construction was completed in June of 2022.
âThis is fantastic; itâs certainly state of the art and looks like it sort of meets the modern demand,â said Jack Benjamin, director of Planning & Development. âItâs just fantastic to see new sort of developments and projects on this side of East Main Street too in New Brite Plaza.â
âItâs so crazy though to come into a McDonaldâs now and see it with this new different set up thatâs not like the McDonaldâs that we were used to as kids,â Stewart added. âItâs a different vibe in here thatâs for sure. Itâs definitely gives you a restaurant feel, but it looks amazing.â
Kiss 95.7 FM radio DJs set up out front during the event, playing live music as customers came to eat.
Santacroce also presented a check for $500 to Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Haven.
âRonald McDonald House of Charities is very appreciative of our McDonaldâs owner-operators, without their support and the work that they do to support the charity we really wouldnât be able to provide the resources we do,â said Michelle DâAmore, executive director of Ronald McDonald House of Charities of New Haven. âKeith has been a long-time supporter of the house. So weâre just thrilled and weâre grateful that he considered and gave us his support today, it will go a long way toward our families.â
Santacroce presented a loyal customer and retired veteran a laminated McDonaldâs card for coffee with no expiration date to use any time.
Lastly, he presented a $500 check to The Friendship Service Center of New Britain, which was accepted by Caitlin Rose, the executive director.
September marked 44 years Santacroce has been a part of the McDonaldâs franchise and he couldnât be happier.
âIâm happy to say that 41 of the 44 years has been spent doing business right here in this great city, so Iâm extremely proud to be here,â he added.
Santacroceâs journey began as a store manager at a location on 963 West Main St.
âWe quickly maximized that site as far as no space to park, no space to seat customers, and the McDonaldâs corporation was gracious enough to cut a deal and buy the property at Corbin Avenue and West Main Street in 1987,â Santacroce said. âI eventually became an area supervisor because we also had a location in Plainville.â
In 1993 Santacroce became an owner-operator and opened this site in New Brite Plaza in June of 1997.
âIâve done business with this McDonaldâs brand in Hamden, Cheshire, North Haven, New Haven, Derby, Plainville, Southington, Bristol and Farmington and of all the places there is no community that has been more welcoming, been there to help you do business, been there to help you grow than the city of New Britain, and thereâs nowhere else I want to be place,â Santacroce said.
Ciara Hooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org