HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — As a spotlight rose into the night sky above Holyoke, hundreds of people swarmed Maple Street for an event nine months in the making.
It was exactly nine months to the day since the McDonald’s at 285 Maple Street was the site of a fire. The business was closed for reconstruction, and at midnight it re-opened to a community with open arms. The lines were out the door and spilled into the parking lot.
“The amount of people who are here today for our grand opening, just the energy level that’s here, it’s a family atmosphere,” said Owner and Operator Jorge Gomez.
The morning of January 12, a fire, which started in the kitchen, tore through the ventilation system of the restaurant. No one was injured in the fire, but the building needed complete reconstruction.
“It was so important to get this restaurant back running,” said Gomez, “it took months but the actual construction took only 77 days.”
While the business was closed 30 percent of its employees were able to transfer to other McDonald’s locations in the area. Most, if not all, of them are now back in Holyoke working, in addition to some new employees; Gomez says they’ve doubled their workforce to more than 100 people.
“It’s bringing full and part-time jobs downtown,” said Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, “particularly to young people for during the summer and all 12 months of the year.”
Morse said economic development downtown will continue to help deter crime from the area.
Morse said: “I commend Jorge Gomez and the entire Gomez family for investing here in downtown, for making it look like an attractive place and for being a place where people want to be.”
Perhaps part of the draw to the midnight opening were the prices on the menu. For four hours, customers were able to buy several dollar menu items for just a quarter. Twenty percent of all proceeds from the night went to the Murphy & Callahan Scholarship Fund. Additionally, a check for $4,000 was donated to Holyoke Public Schools.
Gomez has owned the location for 18 years, it’s just one of the 15 locations they own in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“This was the first restaurant that my wife and I purchased,” Gomez said, “so we’re very proud to be part of this community.”