Opening only weeks away for new Bridgton McDonald’s

Gail Geraghty photo



A CULTURED STONE SURFACE — McDonald’s Corporation has sided its new 40- or 44-seat restaurant in Bridgton with mocha-colored cultured stone, which is concrete mixed with pigment and then placed into forms that, once hardened, appears very much like real stone. Don Smith Masonry of Harrison did the work, and employee Justin Keene said McDonald’s hasn’t typically used this type of siding in Maine, but has used it more frequently in its stores in Florida and other southern locations. The new restaurant is located on the corner of Hancock Lumber Drive and Portland Road, across from Willett Road. The retail space at right is being actively marketed for lease to a retail concern by developer Mark Lopez of Bridgton.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The last week of November has been projected for the opening for the new McDonald’s restaurant in Bridgton — and its new owner and operator, Edward Roetman, can’t wait.

"We are excited to be in Bridgton and excited about the town and the area,” said Roetman, who relocated to Bridgton with his wife from Lake Placid, N.Y., to run the franchise. Roetman previously owned five McDonald’s restaurants in the Lake Placid area, which he sold. “Everyone has been welcoming and very helpful, and we look forward to living in the community and being part of it.”

Construction of the 2,920-square-foot restaurant and attached 2,400-square-foot retail space, which began in late summer on the south corner of Hancock Lumber Drive and Portland Road, has gone so quickly and smoothly that, had it not been for Hurricane Sandy’s damage to distribution capacity on the East Coast, the fast food restaurant would have opened for business next week, said McDonald’s Corporation spokesperson Kristel Wagner. She said she and Roetman will be meeting in Bridgton Friday to make plans for a grand opening, with a date yet to be determined.

Wagner said there have been more than 180 applicants for jobs, and more than 30 people have been hired so far, after applying online at “Hiring is still ongoing, and people can still apply,” she said.

Roetman said he is especially pleased with the exterior appearance of the restaurant, which features mocha-tinged cultured stone that McDonald’s recently began using in its stores in Florida. The facing is a step up from the white concrete stucco exterior of the Auburn McDonald’s on Minot Avenue, a similarly-sized project completed a few years ago that features an adjoining Lil’ Mart convenience store. Both stores, however, have signs above the front windows that use half of a golden arch — what McDonald’s calls the yellow “brow” — a Nike swoosh-like arc designed to evoke a more upscale, Starbucks-like experience for a new generation of McDonald’s customers.

“I am also very thankful to developer Mark Lopez for his help and the quality of his work — he has built a marvelous building," Roetman said.

When plans were first announced for the restaurant over two years ago, Lopez, a Bridgton resident who also developed the local Family Dollar store, estimated building construction costs at $440,000, with overall costs of $600,000 to develop the 1.75-acre site he bought from Hancock Lumber in the fall of 2008. He is actively marketing the adjoining commercial space for retail use.

“I’m thrilled that it’s almost done,” Lopez said Wednesday. And he’s also pleased with the appearance of the restaurant. “I’ve heard nothing but compliments about it.” The interior seating for around 24 is designed in a café-style, he said, and on the walls are murals of Bridgton in the early 19th Century, along with a depiction of one of Bridgton’s more popular attractions, the annual Musher’s Bowl dogsled races.

Lopez is glad to have Roetman in place as the owner/operator of the Bridgton McDonald’s. “He’s a very capable, nice guy. He brings a lot to the community.”

Lopez has concentrated his time and energy on the McDonald’s side of the building, and so far hasn’t focused on finding a tenant for the vacant retail space. A business that sells ice cream expressed interest, but wasn’t a good fit because of competing interest concerns.

Lopez also estimated the restaurant will eventually employ 40 people, with an annual payroll of $350,000. Expected hours of operation were projected to be from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Although it will be up to Roetman, as franchise operator, to make a final determination on hours.

The restaurant features a one-way entrance for northbound Portland Road traffic, leading into a 35-space front parking lot as well as a drive-through lane extending around the rear of the building to a drive-up window facing Hancock Lumber Drive. All traffic leaving the restaurant will exit at the traffic light, which also serves as the access point for southbound traffic.

Lopez faced strong opposition in his role as McDonald’s developer when plans were first announced in June of 2010. A flurry of letters followed throughout the summer and fall, both for and against the project, with detractors mainly concerned that America’s fast food icon coming to Bridgton would detract from the small town culture so prized by both year-round and summer residents. By the time the Bridgton Planning Board began its review of the project in September, McDonald’s Corp. had decided to hire an architectural firm to help design the building. Tom Dubois of Main-Land Development Consultants, Inc., told a standing-room-only crowd McDonald’s had heard residents’ concerns loud and clear. “We read the papers,” he said.

A citizen-led petition effort to ban fast-food restaurants in Bridgton, as well as big box stores, led to a town-wide referendum vote in March of 2011, and both questions were defeated by a two-to-one margin in favor of allowing such development. The controversy later led to formation of a new Comprehensive Plan Committee, which has been meeting ever since, in an effort to both update the existing 2004 Comprehensive Plan as well as create new development standards for the Portland Road corridor and downtown Bridgton.


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