Local restaurant torn down and then rebuilt back up

Something puzzling has happened in my local Austin neighborhood: A Chik Fil-A restaurant was torn down less than a year ago - completely razed to the ground - and then rebuilt back up on the same spot. As far as I can tell, the new Chik Fil-A is identical, inside and outside, to the old preexisting one. It didn’t seem like anything was structurally wrong with the old one.
Is there an economic reason why something like this would be done?

They tore tore down and built a new McDonalds in my town. Weird thing is, they made it smaller, less seats, etc. But made the parking lot bigger.

Strange if it was the exact same building. I’m guessing there were some major design changes you’d see upon closer inspection.
I’ve seen a half dozen McDonalds remodeled the same way. It’s probably cheaper to raze the building and start from scratch building exactly what you want rather than trying to remodel around the existing framing.

I can see that. Much of the business nowadays is for take-out, especially via the drive-thru. And they’ve changed the dining area in McDonalds now, to make them more Starbucks-like.

As for the OP, I really doubt the new restaurant is exactly the same. Even if it cosmetically looks the same, the mechanical systems were probably upgraded.

Depending on how long the original building was there, codes may have changed to a point where it was also cheaper, and would take less time, to tear it down and then rebuild from scratch.

At least half of the old dining room at the McDonald’s nearest to me is now a playground.

Or, there was a major structural problem with the original building, not apparent on external examination, but serious enough to need remedying. And demolish-and-rebuild was the most cost-effective way of doing that.

I wonder if there was some sort of damage to the foundation and/or plumbing underneath it that necessitated the removal of the structure.

Also do you know if the building was subject to any sort of flood damage before they dismantled it?

Mold in the walls is also a possibility.

Not that I know of, but I never asked.
I had been observing the construction going on with the restaurant, thinking it must be something substantially different (like, a majorly different design in mind) for them to tear it down. But seeing the new restaurant being essentially identical got me confused.

But what you might not see is things like cracks in the foundation that are causing issues or flooding in the basement that’s going to require waterproofing the foundation and or the installation of drain tile and a sump pump. Combine any of those things with a building that’s 30+ years old and it may just be easier to tear it down and start over. Especially if the AHJ is requiring things to be brought up to code (and all the more reason if insurance or the franchiser is covering some/all of it).

On the other hand, I’ve seen a few remodels around town where they went in the opposite direction. They’d tear down one side and build it back up and continue around the building. I’m under the assumption that they’re doing this so no more than a certain percentage of the building is being remodeled at any one time thus not requiring the building to be brought up to code.

They did the same with a Popeye’s near my house. The new one had a more modern design though.

Who pays for this? Is it the franchisee? Can the franchise say: “Update your building or lose your license!”?

They can and do over here. A Mc D near us was torn down and rebuilt. The old building was pretty scruffy and I read somewhere that Mc D has come up with a partly prefabricated design for new builds. The new place certainly went up fast and looks very modern.

Could it be that a demolition crew accidentally tore down the wrong building and were forced to rebuild it by the owner?

There might have been asbestos in the walls.

I think it would be reasonable to walk in and ask the staff, as dozens of people probably have already.

The former indoor playroom at my closest Mickey is now gone. I think they made a larger kitchen and smaller, less inviting dining area.

Modular. According to a guy I know who works making the stuff, it’s now modular :slight_smile:

As an urban planner once explained it, these kind of buildings, and small strip malls have the same feature, have a design life. The maintenance cost reaches the point where it is cheaper to rebuild. Similar to owning a car. Obviously the repairs in any one year don’t exceed the cost of the entire building, but maintenance over time does. And the franchise want s new updated look-it increases sales.
These kind of buildings are designed to be temporary and they certainly aren’t reusable. A japanese restaurant took over an old Wendy’s in my home town. Fortunately the food is very good, even though the inside was extensively remodeled there is no mistaking that you are eating japanese food in a wendy’s. This kind of reuse is very unusual in my experience.

Perhaps they had to remove the bodies from the Native American Burial Ground the original building covered?

Not quite, corporate Chick-fil-a owns every restaurant.

IIRC McDonald’s policy is that the buildings must be “refreshed” every so often. Often the scale of changes makes it cheaper (faster, and more convenient) to tear down and rebuild. McD’s is getting away from being a sit-in restaurant and focussing more on drive-thru/take-out. They are also trying to get away from the 50’s-style garish look and go for more sedate, earth-tone, etc.

Plus, with many building codes, as other post alluded to, once you start changing the plumbing or electrical, you are required to bring it all up to current code. By the time you tear out all the interior walls you may as well build from scratch - faster and simpler. Long term it means cheaper maintenance.

There’s another dynamic I’ve heard about - thanks to accounting procedures, it’s simpler and cheaper often to lease the whole installation. Many of these in-a-shopping-center-parking-lot buildings are built to spec by the land owner and leased to the tenant restaurant company. The restaurant just pays a fixed rent, the owner gets to apply depreciation over the lifetime of the lease. It may be simpler cost-wise to tear down and rebuild than deal with the accounting of “we wrote off the whole building but now we have renovated and it has a higher value than the cost of renovations”. That would mean re-doing the tax deductions going back years or some sort of accounting headache.