As anyone who grew up in a small town knows, getting a McDonald’s is a big deal.
Earlimart in southern Tulare County is no exception.
The town of about 8,500 will celebrate the grand opening of its McDonald’s at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 30.
“It’s a huge thing for the community, absolutely,” said Michael Washam, assistant director for economic development and planning in Tulare County.
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When the restaurant was under construction, rarely a day went by without residents bringing workers fresh fruit, homemade baked goods or other goodies.
Earlimart is unincorporated, but has a town council-style group with regular meetings.
“The first question every time they meet is when is the McDonald’s going to be open?” Washam said.
Though some may frown on chains moving into a community – preferring locally owned businesses instead – chains are often seen as a sign of progress in small towns.
The McDonald’s is opening in the 7.5-acre White River Plaza at 975 Earlimart Street, at the intersection of Avenue 56 and Highway 99.
“Before this White River development, they haven’t had any new development for years and years – decades,” Washam said, adding that people would drive to Delano or Tulare to shop.
Developer Max Becerra decided to put “Welcome to Earlimart” on the large highway sign advertising the businesses.