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McDonalds Franchisee Nina Gombles Continues Savannah Investment While Protecting Employees

McDonalds Franchisee Nina Gombles Continues Savannah Investment While Protecting Employees

By Lou Phelps, SBJ Staff

Jan 16, 2012 - For Nina Gombels, owner of six of the Savannah area’s most successful McDonald’s franchises, the decision to tear down her restaurant at Waters Ave. and Eisenhower Dr. was significant.

She bought the store from her Dad back in 2004, who has now passed way – he had been a 37-year McDonald’s franchisee, from whom she learned the business.

”It’s really significant for us…and it’s a tremendous investment,” she explained, talking about the decision to level the Waters Avenue location. “It was really something to see it gone yesterday.” She also is losing three months-worth of sales, while increasing her payroll at other stores.

She has managed to retain all of her employees from the Waters Avenue location during the shutdown. “We transferred them to other locations; we maintained them and we found what would be the most convenient locations within our organization for them,” based on where they lived, Gombels explained. “We worked to insure that they could maintain their positions. No people were laid off.”

The new Waters Avenue store will seat 91 customers inside, feature an inside toddler’s play area – eliminating the outside playground – and maintain the same number of parking spaces. Both an updated design and the double service lanes will be the most significant changes. The old store actually had more parking spaces than were called for by local zoning, based on their prior seating capacity, so no additional parking needed to be included.

The success of her woman-owned company over the past decade has allowed her to pay off the Water’s Avenue investment, and tear it down to bring in the updated generation of McDonald’s design. It’s one of several major investments she has made.

Gombels converted her Derenne Ave. McDonalds to two lanes last May, and converted her store at Ogeechee Rd. and Berwick back in 2007. At Derenne, they have achieved significant improvements in customer service, speed of delivery of food, and an increase in customer volume. There has, however, been some conversion of in-store customers to drive-through, but overall sales are up. With the Waters Ave. store closed, they are also seeing increased sales at Derenne Ave, as well.

Besides running clean stores, with a high level of customer service, Nina emphasizes that the changes in the McDonald’s menu have also had a very positive impact on her company, including the McCafe coffee line, the smoothies, lemonades and healthier food choices such as oatmeal cereal for breakfast - a healthier morning alternative.

And the changes to the children’s Happy Meal by the McDonalds corporation has also been very positive for her local sales. “Every Happy Meal now provides French fries and apples. It used to be one or the other. The price for a Happy Meal went up, at the most by 10 cents. We reduced the size of the French fries just a little bit,” as well, she explains.

The Water’s Avenue location will be back up no later than March 29, though perhaps a week or so earlier, based on her contractor’s estimates.

Nina Gombel’s McDonalds franchise company, NTG Enterprises, Inc. is located at 2809 Roger Lacey Ave in Savannah.
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