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Beth Rickers/Daily Globe Members of the Worthington Burger King management team (from left) Ryan Price, Martha Almanza, Chad Nixon and Sarah Price, sit at one of the new high-top tables in the restaurant's remodeled dining room.

Local Burger King gets royal update

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WORTHINGTON -- What does it take to renovate a restaurant inside and out in just two weeks?

A professional crew and a lot of teamwork, according to Burger King owner-operator Chad Nixon. The Worthington Burger King, located at the "big corner" intersection of Humiston Avenue and Oxford Street, just wrapped up a whirlwind remodeling project that provided a new look, inside and out, to the fast-food franchise.

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"We only shut down during the two-week process for a day and a half," said Nixon. "While we were doing the exterior, we kept the dining room open, and while we were doing the interior, we kept the drive-thru open."

The project was initiated by financial and franchise incentives offered by Burger King, but the real purpose was to create a more pleasant dining experience for customers.

"The big picture is we did it for our guests," emphasized Nixon. "For 14 years, this store has been on the big corner, and we felt that our guests needed a look that was fresh and new and that would tie into our new menu and the new care program we have for our guests."

Earlier this year, Burger King launched a number of new menu items designed to expand the restaurant's appeal. The new food offerings included salads, wraps, smoothies, barbecue sandwiches, sweet potato fries and new kids' products with a Mattel toy program. Burger King has also partnered with Cinnabon to offer that company's signature cinnamon rolls, in a smaller size called "Minnabons," throughout the day.

"We have a special that after 2 p.m. the Cinnabons are only $1," noted Nixon, "and we serve them all day, until close."

In the near future, the menu will change to include a couple of new burgers -- a Wisconsin Whopper with two cheese and a spicy burger called the Angry Whopper -- curly sweet potato fries with a different coating and gingerbread shakes and sundaes for the holiday season.

The company's care program emphasizes customer service, giving guests the royal treatment that the restaurant's name implies.

"It's an overall attitude of how we train our people, how we create an atmosphere for our guests to make them feel at home, to be courteous and respect them," explained Nixon.

The menu, customer service and facility updates combine to present what Nixon calls a "fast-casual" attitude. Inside and out, the renovations were designed to create more of a lounge look. On the exterior, the canopies and overhead lighting were removed, and a flat stone façade and new lighting were added. For the drive-through customers, the lanes were broadened to accommodate bigger vehicles, and a second menu board was added.

Nixon was able to choose from several remodeling options in planning the inside redesign and chose one of Burger King's newest plans, one that hasn't yet been utilized in the region. Except for the flooring and a few windows, the look has been completely changed. The seating has been expanded with high-top tables and booths, over which pendant lighting was added. High backs on all the booths add more privacy for the dining experience. The color scheme is soothing taupe tones with accents of red.

The fast-track remodel was accomplished by Beck & Hofer, a Sioux Falls, S.D., construction company that has now been involved in 12 Burger King renovations in the region.

"Thirty-eight guys were working on this job on any given day," said Nixon. "It was all about teamwork, cooperation and patience."

"It's really difficult on a store, difficult to maintain operations," during a remodeling project, said Dave Potratz, superintendent of the project for Beck & Hofer. "It took a lot of patience on behalf of the owner and his team. I like to call it organized chaos."

Nixon is relieved that the "organized chaos" portion of the project is done and that he and his team can get back to operations as normal, but in a much-improved environment that is beneficial to both employees and customers.

"We've had numerous compliments from our guests," said Nixon, "and I remind them that we did do this for them."

The Worthington Burger King is open from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

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Beth Rickers
Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.  
(507) 376-7327
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