Brandon McDonald’s to close; new eateries set

BRANDON — The McDonald’s fast food restaurant in Brandon will close at the end of the month, and two new eateries are expected to move into the space.
Champlain Oil owns the building on Route 7 North, also known as 228 Grove St., which houses the Jiffy Mart convenience store and gas station. An application has been submitted to the town of Brandon for a conditional use review by the Development Review Board, and is on the agenda for a Sept. 28 hearing.
Multiple messages left for McDonald’s franchise owner Charlie Coughlin at his Rutland office were not returned, but The Reporter has learned that the last day of business for the Brandon McDonald’s is Sept. 21.
Project Manager Matt Wamsganz of Champlain Oil is the applicant. According to the application, the restaurant side of the Jiffy Mart building will be renovated to accommodate a Subway restaurant franchise and a Ramunto’s Pizza restaurant. There will be no change to the size of the building, but there will be extensive interior renovations to accommodate the two eating establishments.
There will also be necessary changes in signage on the outside of the building, including a request for an additional freestanding sign that currently does not meet the town’s sign ordinance requirements. The owners have requested a variance for that sign because it measures 36 square feet and the total allowed for a freestanding sign is 24 square feet.
The Brandon McDonald’s employed 40 full- and part-time employees when it was doing peak business, but is now down to a crew of about 20 full- and part-time workers.
Current McDonald’s employee Colleen Wright of Sudbury said that Coughlin offered all the Brandon employees full-time jobs at the McDonald’s franchises he also owns on Woodstock Avenue and on Main Street in Rutland, and the one in Middlebury. She said other Brandon businesses have offered the McDonald’s employees jobs as well.
Coughlin opened the franchise in Brandon in 2007 and it is widely understood that the restaurant has not made enough money over the years to warrant keeping it open.
According to the DRB application, the new Subway and Ramunto’s restaurants will only employ a total of five people, but some current McDonald’s employees have applied to work in the new eateries as well.
And not only will there be fewer jobs, there may be less traffic in and around the Jiffy Mart building. The current McDonald’s runs a busy drive-through window, and that will close as well. A traffic impact statement from Wilson Consulting Engineers in Montpelier states that “there should be no substantial change in the anticipated number of trips associated with these site modifications.”
As for Colleen Wright, she is the mother of two high school students, and her daughter has been working with her part-time at the Brandon McDonald’s. She said she will be pursuing her real estate license once the restaurant closes.
“It’s been a great and fun place for Lizzy and me to work,” she said, “but it’s also OK to move on. I think our customers will miss us but I’m sure they’ll see familiar faces at the new Subway.”
The application will be discussed at the next Brandon DRB hearing, scheduled for Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Brandon Town Hall meeting room.

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