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Local McDonald’s closes after 18 years of business

Business & Money

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McDonald’s file photo

AMMON – Customers were surprised to see a local fast-food restaurant suddenly shut its doors last week.

McDonald’s inside the Ammon Walmart closed Wednesday, March 31, after 18 years of business.

The reason for the closure was not specifically stated, but McDonald’s USA spokeswoman Lindsay Rainey tells EastIdahoNews.com it was one of three Walmart locations in Idaho to shutter operations.

“Since December, three low-volume McDonald’s restaurants located inside Idaho Walmart stores have closed. Local franchisees have expressed they are willing to close their locations,” Rainey says. “McDonald’s will still retain a presence in Walmart stores through higher volume locations in many areas.”

Rainey did not say where the other closures occurred.

The restaurant chain announced last July it was planning to permanently close 200 of its nearly 14,000 stores in the U.S. More than half of those were inside Walmart stores and were reporting low sales volume.

Though nationwide closures were planned prior to the onset of COVID-19, company executives say the pandemic accelerated those plans.

“Restaurants with drive-thru windows, which Chris Kempczinski, the company’s president and CEO, said are in about 95% of stores, are recovering better from the effects of COVID-19 as customers opt for less contact when making purchases. Restaurants that operate in malls and urban centers or depend on tourists are struggling more,” according to GroceryDive.com.

Trent Cichos, the owner-operator of McDonald’s stores in Idaho Falls, Blackfoot and Rexburg, including the one in Ammon, says business has been fair since the start of COVID.

“We have benefitted greatly from having a drive-thru while not being able to open our dining rooms. We are thankful for the support we have received from our local community,” Cichos says.

Cichos and his team are currently in the process of restoring the Ammon Walmart location to its original white walls before it opened in 2003. Walmart did not respond to a request for comment about its plans for the space.

There are not currently any plans to open another McDonald’s restaurant in eastern Idaho, Cichos says.

“Our people are one of our highest priorities, and with the closure in Ammon, all employees of the restaurant have been offered positions at (other stores in the area). Closing a restaurant is a difficult decision in any town but we look forward to continuing to serve our customers at our other McDonald’s restaurants in the neighboring communities,” Rainey says.

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