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January 29, 2023

Freedom McDonald’s celebrates reopening

WATSONVILLE—More than 100 people gathered in front of the newly rebuilt McDonald’s restaurant on Freedom Boulevard Tuesday for a grand reopening celebration.

The business, located at 1598 Freedom Blvd., replaces the one originally built in 1974, which had remained at the same location until demolition began earlier this year. In an interview at that time with the Pajaronian, Martin Guerrero, whose family owns the local franchise, said the project was eight years in the making.

The new facility is much larger than its predecessor, allowing it to accommodate modern equipment and furnishings. It includes a newly remodeled kid’s playroom—the sole one in Santa Cruz County McDonald’s—and a two-lane drive-thru.

“We are so thankful to have this restaurant open once again,” said Shaz Roth, CEO of the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. “Everyone did a beautiful job.”

Tuesday’s two-hour event was attended by multiple community leaders, including current and former Watsonville City Council members and employees, Watsonville police and firefighters, and religious leaders who had conducted special blessings beforehand.

Scout troop 558 of Watsonville held a flag-raising ceremony at the start of the event. Tila Bañuelos, Guerrero’s mother and head of the local franchise, welcomed everyone and gave them a history of her family’s journey with the franchise in the Pajaro Valley.

Guerrero was dubbed owner/operator of the location at Tuesday’s event. He was introduced by and congratulated by his mother, who gave him a special plaque featuring a golden key.

About 70 employees have been hired to run the new location. Guerrero praised them for their hard work, calling them the “backbone” of the business.

“They’re the ones in there, helping us be McDonald’s,” he said. “These are the ones that make it all happen.”

Following the official ribbon-cutting, guests were invited inside for a tour.

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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