The McDonald’s next to UK campus is being demolished. What’s next for that spot?

The McDonald’s location at 357 South Limestone is across the street from the University of Kentucky campus.
The McDonald’s location at 357 South Limestone is across the street from the University of Kentucky campus.

One of Lexington’s original McDonald’s is being demolished. The restaurant at 357 South Limestone will close after May 26, according to a company spokeswoman.

The McDonald’s location at 357 South Limestone is one of the city’s original ones, built in 1978. It is being torn down for a new McDonald’s, coming in August. Ryan C. Hermens

A sign on the door said it was originally going to close after Sunday with demolition is scheduled to begin later next week, according to WKYT, the Herald-Leader’s reporting partner.

“It got pushed back a week,” said Judy Pyle, McDonald’s spokeswoman. Demolition will begin a few days later, and then construction will begin on the new restaurant, which is expected to open in August.

Pyle said the new McDonald’s will be “a posh McDonald’s,” very high tech with self-ordering kiosks and digital menu boards.

McDonald’s has applied for a new commercial building permit for the property indicating the project will cost about $1.5 million and has an occupancy of more than 150.

The McDonald’s location at 357 South Limestone in Lexington was built in 1978 and is one of the first five McDonald’s in the city. Ryan C. Hermens

The restaurant was was placed on probation on March 11 after scoring 76 on an inspection that found a live roach in a sink; employees not wearing hair restraints; improper sanitizing; “many” food and other surfaces dirty, including dining room tables; ice machine leaking from the first floor into the basement; full garbage bags sitting in on the floor next to the back door and on the sidewalk near the back door; dirty floors throughout; walls, ceiling and vents dirty; and kitchen area “very unorganized and cluttered.”

The restaurant was built in 1978, according to Fayette County PVA site.

According to a 1979 Lexington phone book, there were five McDonald’s restaurants in town at the time: One on Richmond Road outside New Circle, one near Eastland Drive on New Circle, one on Russell Cave Road at New Circle, one on Versailles Road and the one on South Limestone.

The Eastland McDonald’s apparently was the first one, built in 1961. It was still there in 1974, when two locations could be found in the City Directory, it and one on Versailles Road, where a McDonald’s continues to operate.

Sam Smargon, left, owner and manager, and Gene Witheril, company field consultant, turn out some hamburgers at Lexington’s first McDonald’s in December 1961. The drive-in fast-food hamburger restaurant, located at 771 East New Circle Road, near Eastland Drive, opened Dec. 12 that year. It was the 306th Golden Arches to open nationwide in 37 states. The restaurant featured a limited 10-item menu the company said enabled it to serve people fast and keep costs down. Featuring a hamburger for 15 cents, McDonald’s limited its offerings to three food items - hamburgers, cheeseburgers and 10-cent french fries. Seven drinks were offered: milk shakes, Coca-Cola, root beer, orangeade, milk, coffee and hot chocolate. Their assembly-line technique promised delivery of a full meal in 50 seconds. The company said the cost for an average meal was 45 cents, which is $3.72 today adjusted for inflation. The restaurant featured no carhops or waitresses, instead letting customers get their own orders from a self-service window. The company promoted this in its low prices and no need to tip. The walls were a 900-square-foot expanse of plate glass, making “exhibition cooking” a feature of the McDonald’s. Some of that glass can be seen in this image with the Goodwin Plymouth sign in the background. Want-ads in the Lexington Leader for jobs at this New Circle location asked “for qualified young men of above average intelligence” and “no drinkers”. Herald-Leader archive photo
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