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Fast Food Gets in on the Ground Floor : Restaurants: New McDonald's on North Central Avenue is touted as the country's first drive-through eatery in a high-rise building.


A new McDonald's twice the size of the old one opened Monday at 500 N. Central Ave. in Glendale as the country's first drive-through, fast-food restaurant in a high-rise building.

But unlike the ground-breaking ceremony 18 months ago, when "Big Macs under glass" were served at a formal luncheon, the opening ceremony was brief and simple.

Franchisees Herb Kurit and Mike Nober touted the restaurant, with its marble walls, Corian counters and elegant appointments, as one of the finest in Los Angeles. Then dignitaries and guests were invited to place a free order at the counter, where business already was brisk following Friday's unofficial opening.

When the concept of incorporating a drive-through restaurant in the ground floor of a nine-story building was announced three years ago, McDonald's officials said it would be the first of its kind in the world and would launch a trend toward greater utilization of expensive urban land.

McDonald's officials said this week, however, that there are now similar outlets in other countries, such as Japan, that were designed later but built faster. Glendale's is still the first such McDonald's in the United States, they said.

The restaurant is part of a $30-million, nine-story office building and theater complex built by the Howard-Platz Group of Glendale. A drive-through lane in a covered parking garage has two kiosks where order-takers deal person-to-person with drivers. Kurit said the system is capable of handling take-out orders from 240 cars an hour.

The old restaurant handled about 130 drive-through customers an hour, which accounted for 42% of its business--one of the most successful franchises in the Los Angeles area, company officials said.

"The idea here was to show that McDonald's could fit in with an upscale office environment," said Kurit, who owns seven other McDonald's franchises in the San Fernando Valley and Newhall. "We had to get away from the standard decor. This one is very unique."

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