Jim Wagy has been around McDonald’s for his entire life but on Wednesday, Jan. 10, he experienced something that had him smiling from ear to ear.
The local McDonald’s owner held a grand opening of the remodeled Platte City store and that same time, Mayor Frank Offutt announced that Jan. 10 is McDonald’s Day by handing Wagy a framed proclamation.
“Wow,” Wagy said. “This is so cool. I’ve never got anything like this.”
This is the second remodel that Wagy has performed at the Platte City location, the last came in 2006 and expects to have to ‘refresh’ this new remodel by 2027 or 2028.
Wagy currently owns eight McDonald’s – seven in the Kansas City area and another in Maryville.
He grew up around the business as his dad owned 12 McDonald’s restaurants in the KC metro area and opened the first location in the county at Interstate 29 and Barry Road.
Lee Wagy opened the Platte City location in April of 1988 and in 2001, sold it to his son, who just recently did his second remodel of the location.
“I’m very proud that I served on the board of aldermen when McDonald’s came to town,” Offutt said. “We used to have to drive down to the store on North Oak to get our McDonald’s, so we were thrilled when it came to Platte City.”
Jim Wagy vividly recalls the importance the Platte City location was to his dad.
“The Platte City store was his showboat,” Wagy said of his late’s father store. “The beautiful mauve and blue and the water fountain in the middle. It was the Taj Mahal of McDonald’s. We had the CEO of McDonald’s, Fred Turner, in that store. We had many presidents and CEOs at the Platte City store. It was a great, great store. I know he is here watching today, I’m so happy to be here and carrying on in his shoes.”
During the ribbon cutting ceremony – held inside the new PlayPlace, Wagy presented a donation to The Dream Factory of Greater Kansas City. The philanthropy work is another aspect where he follows in his dad’s footsteps. Lee Wagy was responsible for bringing the Ronald McDonald House to Kansas City and served as the first president — a role Jim Wagy held for two years and was on the board for seven years.
The latest remodel brings this McDonald’s to being one of the most state-of-the-art locations and is the McDonald’s of the future, according to Wagy.
There are new kiosks inside to place orders, as well as mobile ordering from an app, which can be picked up inside the store, at a specially-designed parking spot or through the drive thru.
The kiosks inside, Wagy said, aren’t to cut jobs from the community. The opposite is true as he said there are more jobs needed to be filled than workers – with 25 open spots at this location.
The drive thru menu is all digital and a new value menu starting at $1 has been introduced. Wagy note that in March, that locations will start offering fresh quarter pound patties cooked on the grilled.
“McDonald’s will always be changing, that is what makes it good,” Wagy said. “It isn’t like Howard Johnson or older chains that never change with the times. We are always ripping it up, being on the cutting edge with technology, guest experience, food, food safety. All of those are very important to us.”
Wagy is a Park Hill High School graduate that got his start at McDonald’s a crew member at the Leavenworth, Kan., store his dad operated in 1979. He recalls physically loading the Big Mac sauce and tartar sauce gun which now comes prepackaged. When there were no pancakes left, he had to go in the back and make the batter himself.
He worked his way up to management roles and then became an area supervisor before ultimately buying the McDonald’s at 7412 N. Oak in Gladstone, Mo., from his parents in 1991.
“I grew up in the business,” Wagy said. “I had a passion and I figured I’d be in music and did that for a while, I wanted to play music because I wanted to, not because I had too. I had an opportunity from my parents and I came and plugged myself into the business with both feet.”
Wagy built his first McDonald’s in 1995 at the old Metro North Mall on Barry Road and then bought the first Plate County location at Interstate 29 and Barry Road in 1998. He acquired Platte City and Smithville in 2001 and built a new location at Highway 152 and North Oak.
“Every day is a different day at McDonald’s,” Wagy said. “It is fun every time we do one of these (remodels). You wear your construction hat, you wear your bank hat to make sure you have cash flow to pay for itself and an operation hat to make sure you are doing the best things for your customers. You wear a lot of hats and you are thinking about a lot of things in the future.”
Wagy will be return to the Platte City location on Friday, Jan. 19 as he and friends will be performing jazz music at the PlayPlace from 5 to 7 p.m.