Kent County gets 1st new Golden Arches in a couple of decades

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Good afternoon,

On Tuesday, the Meoli Companies will hold an opening ceremony in Camden for the first new Kent County, Delaware McDonald’s restaurant in a couple of decades.

The Rehoboth Beach-based company operates a couple of dozen McDonald’s on the Delmarva Peninsula. Meoli according to its website also has investments in hotels and a planned gated community in Laurel, DE.

Meoli follows the McDonald’s tradition of operators who are active in community and charitable efforts. Another good example is the Dukart family, longtime operators of McDonald’s locations in northern Delaware.

Over the past couple of decades, McDonald’s and franchisees have been dealing with the issues that come with being the 800-pound gorilla in fast food.

The struggles nationwide and worldwide included quality, over-saturation of locations, and the rise of nimble competitors like Chick ‘fil A, Shake Shack and Five Guys.

In response, the company and operators have worked on improving quality while continuously renovating and even buiding new restaurants from scratch at existing locations.

One challenge has been the rise of the chicken sandwich that propelled the growth of Popeyes and Chick ‘fil A. There is evidence that some of the popularity of chicken sandwiches has aided McDonald’s most recent offering.

McDonald’s has also exited mall and big box store locations, one example being a location at a Camden Walmart that led Meoli to build a free-standing store with a drive-thru.

Interestingly enough, there is one big gap with no McDonald’s location in or around Christiana Mall, the largest retail hub in Delaware. That was just fine with the more upscale Shake Shack which has a restaurant in the Christiana Fashion Center.

By far, the biggest challenge is finding workers, with a former McDonald’s CEO saying the current labor shortage is a potential catastrophe for the nation as a whole.

The new Meoli restaurant will feature the self-service kiosks that have been installed by McDonald’s and its rivals as a way to deal with walk-in traffic and a labor shortage in the industry that has been around for years. Smartphone apps and deliveries are other options.

Enjoy your weekend. This newsletter reeturns on Monday. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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