March 20, 2014

New McDonald’s operators want to win over Rock Hill neighborhood residents

Construction of fast-food restaurant at the corner of Mount Gallant and Celanese roads was opposed by some residents.

Greg and Ann Stanton, operators of the new McDonald’s at the corner of Mount Gallant and Celanese roads, are out to win their neighbors’ approval – one neighbor at a time.

Some residents of Oakwood Acres fought rezoning the corner for a fast-food restaurant, saying the site was too dangerous because of high traffic volume at the intersection. When access to the site was proposed off Monterey Drive, the residents were concerned the project would hurt their neighborhood.

It took developers more than a year to gain Planning Commission and City Council approval for the project.

The Stantons, operators of seven McDonald’s in North Carolina, said they have met neighborhood resistance before. They hope to overcome that by operating a clean, “family friendly” restaurant that won’t allow people to congregate there, Ann Stanton said.

They are also willing to work with residents, she said. She cited an instance when a neighbor of one of their restaurants complained about the parking lot lights shining into his bedroom. Ann Stanton said they couldn’t reduce the lighting, but did pay for shades to block the lights.

Oakwood Acres resident Lindsay Mosca walked down Monterey Drive to observe Thursday’s groundbreaking. Greg Stanton walked over and greeted her. Mosca said she was “at first nervous” when a fast-food restaurant was proposed for the corner. Hopefully, it “won’t send traffic into our neighborhood,” she said.

Construction of the McDonald’s will start soon and with an anticipated opening date of June 25. The restaurant will employ between 70 and 80 people and have a capacity of about 85. Ronald McDonald was at Thursday’s groundbreaking helping to turn over the ceremonial first shovel of dirt.

This is the Stantons’ first York County location. McDonald’s restaurants in Rock Hill and York County are operated by different owners.

The Stantons said they have been overwhelmed with the kindness they have received here and plan to make education one of their ways of connecting to the community.

The Stantons are former teachers. Greg was a high school English teacher and Ann a high school math teacher. They taught together at a high school in Johnson City, N.Y., south of Syracuse. After teaching for 19 years, they considered a second career and looked at 25 different franchise opportunities before paying their own way to attend McDonald’s Hamburger University, Ann Stanton said.

To learn about store operations, they were crew members at the McDonald’s near the high school where they taught. Some of their students were their crew chief leaders, Ann Stanton said. “We were teachers by day, students by night,” she said.

They have operated McDonald’s restaurants for 24 years.

Ann Stanton said they considered several expansion opportunities but chose Rock Hill because “it fit us. The town is friendly, blue-collar and this a great location.”

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