When Steven Nicholas opened his first McDonalds store at Kings Meadows in 1991 it was seen as a risk.
The McDonalds board had concerns – he and wife Kim were young and opening in a new market.
While they had run the hospital store, now known as Aromas, for four years becoming franchisees was a big step.
Fortunately, they were given the opportunity and went on to open the Invermay Store in 1993 and the South Launceston site in 1996.
Twenty-six years after first entering the business they now run seven stores across the North and North-West, and are investing up to $10 million in Launceston for upgrades.
The re-imaging of the restaurants has been an ongoing process since about 2004 when McCafe was introduced, Mr Nicholas said.
“We changed the feel of our decor and softened them up … obviously soft furnishings don’t last as long as what we initially had in terms of our furniture and fittings, so now its a five to seven year program that we have to continue to revitalise and renovate our restaurants,” he said.
“It’s an expensive process but something that we need to do to continue to be relevant and continue to modernise the experience for our customers.”
The rebuild of the South Launceston store will cost $5 million and Mr Nicholas is hoping to start constuction in February.
While initially the plans were only to create a dual-lane drive thru, the age of the existing store played on his mind.
Mr Nicholas is also considering a complete rebuild of the Invermay McDonalds.
“We haven’t got over all the hurdles yet but if that doesn’t go ahead then it will have a full re-image and renovation,” he said, “It could be from about $1.5 million right up to $5 million depending on whether it’s a rebuild or not.
“The rebuild can’t happen and the financial model doesn't work unless we can continue to operate the existing store, so we need enough land to comfortably rebuild the restaurant whilst we continue to operate the existing site.”
The Kings Meadows store is also being upgraded with a dual-lane drive thru on the cards.
“We hope to get it up and running before Christmas which is our busiest time,” Mr Nicholas said.
“That’s probably about a $400,000 investment and potentially after Christmas there are some internal upgrades that we would like to do, so the investment at Kings Meadows could be in the vicinity of about $600,000.”
Mr Nicholas said both Invermay and South Launceston would see staff numbers increased as the works progressed and the existing teams were excited.