When summer 2014 rolls around people will see the new McDonald’s on the hill behind the AmericInn in Moose Lake. Many will say, “Wow, that went up fast!”
They will be wrong.
Amidst the heavy equipment and utility trucks crawling over the site last week, a small group formed to meet with Brian Weidendorf, president of the Land & Lease Development Company who was overseeing the day’s activities.
Members of the group included Moose Lake City Administrator, Pat Oman, Mayor Ted Shaw, and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Veronica Fenice.
“This is site prep work,” Weidendorf explained to the people atop the hill. “Right now we’re getting the parking lot and the building pad ready. We’ll have all the utilities in this fall.
“There will be two driveways to get in through the drive through. Then it will go around the building and back out. You’re standing in the parking lot right here.”
It was necessary to tell the group they were standing in the parking lot because it didn’t look like a parking lot. It looked like a mess of dirt and grass. The important factor is that Weidendorf could see the parking lot. He is a man of vision.
“I’m a preferred developer for McDonald's,” said Weidendorf, “so I go around and find possible sites, then develop them. I own the land and McDonald’s leases it.”
How did Moose Lake come to be considered by the land developer? That answer is goes back yet another year in the past.
Former Carlton County Commissioner Ted Phileman contacted Weidendorf to suggest Moose Lake as a possible building site. Phileman then introduced the developer to Pat Oman who was also with Carlton County at the time.
“I wouldn’t be here without Pat,” said Weidendorf. “He did everything to get us here. I started talking to Pat long before he was the head honcho here in Moose Lake, but then one thing lead to another. He was just easy to work with, fun to work with and he didn’t let up. That was great. ”
When Weidendorf became confident in the Moose Lake site, he spoke with the regional offices of acquisitions and development for McDonalds.
“We typically go down a path together for about a year and a half before we actually put a shovel in the ground, where they say, yes, this site is it,” said Weidendorf. “McDonald’s is real comfortable with Moose Lake. They’re very excited about it.”
By his own admission, Weidendorf doesn’t know a thing about flipping burgers.
“I’m a developer,” said Weidendorf. “I actually get it all put together. McDonald’s occupies it and runs it.”
The person who will operate the Moose Lake McDonald’s is yet to be determined. “Typically it’s someone who is already running them in the area,” said Weidendorf. “They’ll put out the opportunity north or south of here. We’ll just have to see who gets it.”
Breaking more ground for building construction will happen in the spring.
“We’ll have a really big splash,” said Weidendorf. “We’ll have everybody here with shovels for the ground breaking ceremony in the spring.”
The small, informal group on the hill last week encouraged the developer.
“I love to see this activity,” said Shaw, “everything being moved and cleared and prepared for building. Hopefully this will stir some other interest in this area that has been sitting, ready for development for probably twenty years.”
At this point, the site only has to sit over one more winter before the golden arches will show themselves at the entrance of the city. At least that is the hope of Land & Lease Development’s, Brian Weidendorf.