Published: 00:00, 29 September 2017
McDonald’s at the Ashford Designer Outlet will close in January, it has been announced.
Managers are being forced to shut the restaurant to allow for a multi-million pound expansion of the shopping centre, which will see the existing food court demolished.
A new standalone McDonald’s with an estimated 200 seats will be built as part of the redevelopment, but it is not yet known when it will open.
Franchisee Paul Crocker was preparing to shut his restaurant on Sunday, November 5, but outlet bosses today postponed the closure until Saturday, January 6.
"We are now trading until January..." - Paul Crocker
He said: "We were set to close next month, but the outlet has realised it would be without a food court over the busy Christmas period if we did close in November.
"We are now trading until January and will be open over Christmas.
"It makes sense to stay open until January as lots of customers would have had nowhere to eat if the food court shut before Christmas."
The McDonald's is being forced to close to make way for the outlet's expansion.
“The current food court is going to be ripped out, and the whole outlet extended into the coach drop-off point," Mr Crocker said.
“It will be about 40% bigger and we are part of the redevelopment – we will have a new unit.
“Unfortunately there will be a period of closure between moving out and the new unit being built, and we are not sure how long that period will be, but it will hopefully be just a few months.”
He added: “We are looking forward to our new restaurant because it will be heated rather than our current place which can only be described as a wind tunnel.
“The food court has no solid roof – the wind comes in between the gaps and we have had staff wearing jumpers and gloves in there because it has been so cold.
“It has been a difficult place to trade in the winter, but it has obviously still been very busy during the school holidays and Christmas time.”
Mr Crocker says the new restaurant will feature table service and tablets, similar to the other sites in Ashford.
Building work on the major outlet expansion project is expected to start in November, including up to 50 more shops.
"We will be back in the outlet next year..." - Paul Crocker
Mr Crocker says the expansion will make a "significant improvement" to the site.
“We will be back in the outlet next year,” he added.
“The original intention was to put us in the car park, but they have now decided they will keep the car park as it is.
“Our new restaurant will be an air-conditioned unit which I think will be far better for our customers in the long run – it will be a much nicer place for everybody.”
Mr Crocker, who already manages four restaurants in the town, said he is in talks with developers about where to build the site.
It is not yet known where the restaurant will go, but it will be outside the town centre.