Why does Inver Grove Heights have two McDonald’s? It’s a question that seems baffling to many in the City of Inver Grove Heights. After all, we lack a Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Chipotle, Arby’s, Long John Silver’s, Panera Bread, Culver’s, or Chick-fil-A, among others, but have two McDonald’s located within 2.4 miles of each other off the city’s “main street” of Cahill Avenue.
The answers and reasons why are relatively simple. But let’s check the history of the two locations first.
The first Inver Grove Heights McDonald’s opened in August of 1972 at 5760 Cahill Ave, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076. That restaurant is owned and operated by McDonald’s Restaurants of Minnesota. Located on the northern edge of the city, bordering South Saint Paul off of Cahill and Upper 55th, that McDonald’s is open 24 hours.
The second McDonald’s location, at 3075 80th St E, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076, opened nearly 25 years later in 1996, and is owned and operated by an independent franchisee and located next to a Cub Foods and down the street from Simley High School off of Cahill and 80th Street.
So how did Inver Grove Heights end up with a second McDonald’s when we already had one in the city? The answer is simple: 25 years ago the franchisee of the 80th Street McDonald’s was a savvy and smart enough business owner and had the capital and financial capability to purchase and open a McDonald’s franchise. The land and location was available, the purchase was approved and the McDonald’s was built.
What may be a surprise to many is that nearly 90 percent of McDonald’s U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local businessmen and women. We tried to reach out to the franchisee of the 80th Street location, but did not hear back.
“McDonald’s makes the decision to develop a location because we believe it will be a success,” says Anne Christensen, Regional Communications Manager at McDonald’s Corporation.
Franchises complete studies and compile statistics before considering a location. The McDonald’s investment group that opened in 1990 had enough information and data to believe they could succeed even though another McDonald’s was in the city, and just over two miles away. And they were right, both McDonald’s are busy and customers flock to each restaurant everyday.
Keep this in mind: For any franchise to come to a city, there has to be a person or group of people who have the financial ability to open that restaurant and afford the fees and costs to open a franchise. It currently costs anywhere from $1 million to $2 million dollars to open a McDonald’s franchise. That cost was obviously less 25 years ago, but when it came time for a business to come to IGH, the McDonald’s group had the backing to do what was needed to build the restaurant in that location. People can wish for all the restaurants they want to come to IGH and city officials can recruit all the restaurants or businesses they want, but if the franchisee or ownership group of a particular restaurant or business doesn’t see IGH as viable location to succeed they are not going to come. No matter how much we want them to, or why we think they should. That’s why certain businesses come to IGH and others stay away. McDonald’s saw IGH as a place to succeed, while others either didn’t then. And that’s why we have two McDonald’s in the city of Inver Grove Heights.
That’s a boring answer and far from the many conspiracy theories that were shared over a cold beer down at O’Neil’s Sport bar on Concord or at the back bar at Drkula’s back in the day.
“The city doesn’t want other businesses to come to town,” people would – and still – say. “The Mayor got free Big Mac’s for life,” others joked while getting another beer from Big Ray at Drac’s.
Today people say “Why can’t we get a Taco Bell in IGH?” The answer is because the Minnesota Taco Bell franchise group doesn’t see IGH as a place to currently succeed as a business. In the article 5 reasons popular restaurants won’t come to Inver Grove Heights, franchise consultant Mike Welch said: “Remember, when these companies are considering expansion, IGH isn’t just competing with other Twin Cities communities, its competing with every other city in the USA.”
Back 20-25 years ago young punks from IGH were content cruising Robert Street and hanging out in the Taco Bell or Burger King parking lot, while adults were content heading to Robert Street to eat at Ponderosa Steakhouse, Red Lobster or Timberlodge Steakhouse, among others. Today, those West Saint Paul restaurants (other than Taco Bell and Burger King) are long gone and no one wants to hang out on Robert Street unless they are going to Chipotle – and then they want to leave as quickly as possible. And because IGH has less popular options than surrounding cities, the grumblings that we have two McDonald’s continue – although it sure doesn’t stop anyone from going there.
So there you have it – the answer to why Inver Grove Heights has two McDonald’s is simple: Around 1996 there was simply another investor and franchisee ready and willing to make the investment in IGH. That owner/group was in the right place at the right time and came to the forefront. And it just so happened that restaurant they opened was a McDonald’s.
Boring? Yes. Reality? Yes.
And with that, we’re off to get a Big Mac…and some chicken nuggets. Which of the two IGH McDonald’s will we go to? We’re Not sure yet.