Mike Kelley couldn’t help but become emotional Thursday morning as he watched construction crews tear down the McDonalds restaurant he built four decades ago.
“This is really something,” he said to other onlookers as Tooz Construction crews razed the front of the structure along Museum Drive in Dickinson.
Kelley, a Dickinson area rancher and businessman, has owned McDonalds since it was built in 1976. The fast-food chain restaurant quickly became a staple of the community.
Walking through the old McDonalds building one last time, Kelley summed up what the restaurant — often the busiest eating place in Dickinson — has meant to the community.
“A lot of memories. A lot of hamburgers,” he said with a smile.
Kelley got the first crack at the old building, taking the controls of the excavator used to demolish the structure’s roof to tear down the white letters that spelled out “McDonalds” on the front.
“It’s a little emotional,” he said. “It’s 40 years of life, going in a pile. But it’s exciting. We’ve got the new one sitting beside it. You can see it from here. It’s exciting to get that going. Thank God we’ve got that to look forward to.”
The area where the old McDonalds building sat will become a parking lot for the new restaurant, which Kelley said should have its drive-thru ready to open by Aug. 15 with the dining area opening shortly after that.
On Thursday, however, all Kelley and many long-time McDonalds employees could do was stand and watch as crews demolished the building.
“There’s been a lot of people go by here this morning and stop and watch this,” Kelley said. “I think it’s touched a lot of people’s lives. I really do.”