Not very many fast food restaurants have their own Wikipedia page, let alone historic landmark designation.
The McDonald’s Denton House in New Hyde Park however, does. The historic Georgian-style Mansion located at 2045 Jericho Turnpike has played a critical role within the neighborhood since its inception in 1991 and is now celebrating its 22nd anniversary.
The McDonald’s has played host to a countless number of birthday parties and employer to many area high school students, a fact owner and operator Lawrence Anderer takes pride in.
The property was first purchased by McDonald’s in 1985 when it was in poor condition. The original intentions were to tear down the original building and build a “prototypical McDonalds.” After vocal community objection which argued that the property had historical significance, the mansion received a landmark designation in 1988.
When construction began, instead of an average McDonald’s, the Denton House underwent an historical restoration.
“It faithfully reproduced the earliest available photograph… that dates back to 1927 and a copy of the photograph is in the lobby of the restaurant today,” Anderer said. “It turned out to be a win, win, win situation. A win for McDonalds because the business worked out very well, a win for the community because they were able to salvage a piece of their history and a win for my wife and myself and our family because that’s how we have made our living for the last 20 years.”
The fast-food franchise has carved out its own niche in New Hyde Park and in history as Anderer said sometimes people see it and react by asking “Is this a real McDonalds restaurant?” and “Do they serve food in there?”
After serving with the Marines and working on Wall Street, Anderer decided to look for something else where he would have more independence but “wanted something that wasn’t trendy or cool.”
He also went on to become a prominent member of the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, the Ronald McDonald House and also lectures at New Hyde Park Memorial High School as a part of the Academy of Finance program.
“People knock getting a McDonalds job... but you can go to work with enthusiasm and learn as much as you can,” he said. “If you come and work as a crew person in my store… you are going to learn how to work with people, how to work for people, how to have people work for you, how to work in a pressurized situation, [and] how to work in a team situation. These are things that no matter what you go on to do in life you can take with you and use.”
He sometimes has old employees return and thank him, remembering running into one who snuck up behind him and gave him a big bear hug. The young adult he hired had gone on to become a police officer.