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Las Vegas fast-food chain brings in the culture

Fast-food franchises may not be known for bringing on a cultural experience, but that’s changing with the recent opening of a new McDonald’s in Spring Valley.

The décor of the McDonald’s at 4135 S. Grand Canyon Drive is upscale and contemporary. It’s the perfect setting, say owners Harold and Tina Lewis, for jazz in the suburbs.

They jokingly call it McJazz at McCafe. The idea formed as they were building the new restaurant.

Their latest McDonald’s is set to offer live jazz a couple of times a month on Thursday nights. The first session was June 9. Until it gets off the ground, jazz nights on Thursdays will be sporadic. The next one is slated for 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday .

It may become a weekly event, the couple added .

McJazz will feature the sounds of recording artist Darren Motamedy at no charge (though tips are appreciated), as families enjoy their burgers and fries.

Donna Manalo, in line for lunch, said she’d never heard of a McDonald’s offering such a thing.

“It’s kind of cool that there’s going to be live music here,” she said.

Motamedy, who has had chart-topping CDs, had never heard of a McDonald’s doing it, either. He said he “was hesitant at first, but when I saw the place, it was off the hook … I wouldn’t even call it a McDonald’s.”

The idea for jazz nights came as the couple were building their 10th McDonald’s in Las Vegas.

They went for a classy look, shunning the franchise’s normal circus red and yellow colors. Instead, they used deep red and purple accents against an earthy tan palette for contemporary décor. Ottomans help create lounge-style seating areas. On display are artistic bowls.

The walls are a mixture of tile, stone and metal wave panels for effect. Red lights are flush in the walls, and an overhead oval light sculpture accents the main room at night. The design for everything comes from Tina Lewis.

The two are no strangers to involving the community in their franchise business. In the past, they’ve had antique car shows, silent auctions and breakfast with Santa events.

They are also not strangers to interjecting changes into the McDonald’s profile, something, they said, with which corporate headquarters was fine.

When they had a McDonald’s in San Diego , they added grits to the menu. CNN came out to shoot a segment as they were the first McDonald’s to offer the item west of the Mississippi.

“Certainly, we want to sell hamburgers,” Harold Lewis said. “But this … is a meeting place.”

Contact Summerlin and Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 387-2949.

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