COAL TOWNSHIP - A new "hip" interior and double drive-thru lanes are part of a remodeling project taking place at the McDonald's along Route 61.

That will require some patience in the interim, but owner Roland Kissinger said Thursday the work is going "better than I expected" and should be finished by the end of the month.

As early as next week, the drive-thru, which has been closed since work began Monday, will reopen and the interior will close for the remainder of the construction period.

The Coal Township location is the third of Kissinger's six McDonald's that are being remodeled. The first two were at the Schuylkill Mall, Frackville, and at Elysburg. He also owns McDonald's restaurants in Bloomsburg, Berwick and Mifflinville.

"We are going to give this location a modern look," Kissinger said. "The interior is going to be completely redone with bright colors and a young, hip theme."

The biggest change will make the interior more open by eliminating the glass wall that separates the dining area. The glass existed from the days when the Playland was still there.

Also, the combined table-bench seats will be replaced with stand-alone tables, chairs and stools. There will be new restrooms, a new self-serve beverage bar and new counters, Kissinger said.

All lighting, both inside and outside, will be converted to energy efficient bulbs.

Also in the vein of customer service, Kissinger said a new order-taking system, "dual point service," will be installed, the first for any local McDonald's.

"We are excited about that," he said. "The closest restaurant that offers it is in Williamsport."

Employees at the register will take the orders and that will be their dedicated job, thus enabling them to have more interaction with customers.

Other workers will fill the order and a screen above the order counter will tell customers when their food is ready and can be retrieved at a second location at the counter.

GCM Contractors, Mount Joy, is doing the work, and despite the construction, the restaurant will remain open throughout the project.

"Right now, our drive thru is closed while we get the exterior ready, but the lobby and interior remains open," Kissinger said.

He said the tentative plan is to pour concrete for the double lane drive-thru today, have it set over the weekend and then install menu signs Monday.

If all goes well, on Tuesday, the interior will close and the drive thru will reopen.

The double-lane drive-thru will enable workers to take two orders at the same time, he said.

When the remodel was finished in Elysburg, the restaurant held a grand reopening celebration, complete with a classic car show, a visit by Ronald McDonald and a giveaway of free Big Macs for a year for some lucky customers.

At Coal Township, "We are working on our reopening celebration plans as we speak," Kissinger said.