DOVER — The Meoli Companies is continuing its expansion in Delaware, this time purchasing more McDonald’s locations in the Dover area and now making it the largest brand franchisee in the state.Meoli Companies announced it acquired six McDonald’s in central Delaware from franchisee Charles Ehlers, who owned 13 in total. The remaining seven were sold to brother and sister, Christian and Stephanie Rawden, of northern Pennsylvania.
[caption id="attachment_206039" align="alignright" width="394"] One of the newly acquired McDonald's by the Meoli Companies. | PHOTO COURTESY OF MEOLI COMPANIES[/caption]
Meoli Companies now operates 25 McDonald’s in Sussex and Kent counties as well as others on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The terms of the latest deal were not disclosed."Business is doing very well right now. A few months ago, we made the strategic decision as a McDonald's system to provide a limited menu. This allows us to expedite orders and increase speed in the drive-thru," said Michael Meoli, president of Meoli Companies.With 25 McDonald’s locations, Meoli Companies has 1,200 employees and is continuing to aggressively hire during the pandemic to meet rising demand for quick-service food orders. But Meoli, who has owned McDonald’s restaurants on the Delmarva Peninsula since 1991, sees the growth spurring further innovation in payment and delivery service.
[caption id="attachment_206041" align="alignleft" width="300"] Michael Meoli, president of Meoli Companies | PHOTO COURTESY OF MEOLIE COMPANIES[/caption]
"We've also seen an increased use of our McDonald's contactless payment and ordering system, Mobile Order and Pay, and delivery options like UberEats, Doordash and now Postmates," he said. "While there may be limited availability in our more rural areas to access these services right now, we believe that our delivery partners will be expanding their footprint in 2021 to service more of McDonand's loyal customers."Meoli, who worked his way up through his father’s and uncle’s McDonald’s before taking control of his own, is no stranger to innovation. In 2017, he was among thefirst to tap into the kiosk systemin Delmarva, including bilingual units carrying a cost of $13,000.Looking ahead, Meoli said the top priority with the Dover locations is to hire more staff and offer competitive compensation. Investing in modernizing the look of each location to fit in with the brand identity would come next.In the big picture, Meoli told Delaware Business Times there might be opportunities to build two or three McDonald’s in the next seven years. Acquiring existing buildings would be hard, since franchisees already have control of Northern Delaware, and the area surrounding Annapolis and Salisbury, Md.“Even though there’s limited opportunities to expand our footprint, it leaves us with opportunities to expand our sales in our restaurants,” he said. “Even though our lobbies are closed right now for social distancing requirements, I believe that there’s a chance we’ll see sales grow with new developments in mobile pay in 2021.”By Katie Tabelingktabeling@delawarebusinesstimes.com