FORT WASHINGTON – Almost a year after an electrical fire destroyed a local McDonald’s restaurant, a brand new one has been built and will open Saturday thanks to the help of some Crossland High School students. Last August, an electrical fire destroyed the McDonald’s restaurant located at 7100 Allentown Rd. But now the restaurant is […]
FORT WASHINGTON – Almost a year after an electrical fire destroyed a local McDonald’s restaurant, a brand new one has been built and will open Saturday thanks to the help of some Crossland High School students.
Last August, an electrical fire destroyed the McDonald’s restaurant located at 7100 Allentown Rd. But now the restaurant is open for business with a grand opening set for Saturday. The old building was demolished and a new, modern and contemporary building was established on the corner.
“It’s a beautiful new restaurant. It’s the only one of its kind in this metropolitan area. It’s very contemporary,” Mary Navies, owner and operator of the McDonald’s, said. “It speaks to Prince George’s County and the love that I have for this county. I want it to be inviting, make it a gathering spot, not just be on the corner but be a part of the corner.”
Navies believes in community involvement, so she reached out to the vocational school at Crossland High and spoke with the masonry instructor Mr. Chew, to create an experiential learning experience for Chew’s students during the rebuilding of her restaurant.
“I wanted our students to know that going to a vocational school can lead to many opportunities for them and this was an opportunity to expose them to the many jobs that are available to them once they graduate,” said Navies.
Demetrius Chew, masonry instructor at Crossland High School, agreed to take his class on a field trip across the street to see firsthand the building project in the works.
“We toured the facility, met most of the project managers and toured the facility to see what was going on,” Chew said. “The objective was to allow the students to go to a construction site to find out what goes on with the planning, scheduling, material-handling, the cost estimate and plans.”
Navies invited the students to be a part of the restaurant. The Crossland High School art students created a special mural for the restaurant which is on display inside the new building.
“I wanted those kids to feel like they are stakeholders, like this is their restaurant,” Navies said. “Kids often times are rejected and not welcomed. But I wanted them to feel welcome in this restaurant.”
Theresa Moseley Fax, principal of Crossland High School said the students used to go to the old McDonald’s before or after school. She said the students were “distraught” when they learned the original McDonald’s closed because of the fire, were glad when it re-opened and appreciated the opportunity to create artwork for the new building.
“We have some very talented students at Crossland High School,” Moseley Fax said. “They are gifted artists and for them to actually display our work, I think it’s a good thing.”
Chew describes Navies as “wonderful”, “caring” and “understanding” but also he thinks Navies more than a community leader, she is an example.
“I think she’s a good example in the African American community, especially for females. I work in the school system where a lot of the female students don’t have too many people to look up to,” Chew said. “I think Ms. Navies sets a wonderful example not only for females but for African American young boys. If you have a dream, if you work hard, you can succeed and make money.”
Navies is a veteran restaurateur with 24 years of experience in the business. She finds joy in mentoring the youth.
“I will tell you that I have the finest young people that work for me and I don’t take this lightly,” Navies said. “I like to be a role model for them, to be able to show them that they too can do what I do. They too can dream and make their dream a reality.”
When the restaurant’s rebuilding process was complete, Chew visited to eat lunch with Mary and she made a promise to him.
“One thing she did say was that before she opened up the restaurant, the first hamburger she wanted to flip on the grill she wanted it to be for the students and that impressed me that she is a woman of her word,” Chew said. “She opened it up to the students before she opened it up to the public.”
The new exterior of the McDonald’s restaurant is constructed with the appearance of red bricks and a stone veneer that Chew said is “beautiful” and enhances the “beauty of the building.”
“It doesn’t look like the normal McDonald’s that we grew up with in the 80’s and the 90’s. It’s a different design,” Chew said. “It’s a modern look, a modern feel.”
Two weeks of activities and events, starting May 10, will conclude with a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting this Saturday morning with County Executive Rushern Baker, III as the special guest.