By Marshelle R. Sanders
McDonald’s headquarters has moved to Chicago. And recently, the Black McDonald’s Owners Association (BMOA) hosted a brunch to encourage people to eat a healthy breakfast every morning (September is National Breakfast Month) and to give a tour of the new McDonald’s headquarters located at 110 N. Carpenter St., at the former Oprah Winfrey Harpo Studios.
The burger chain relocated its headquarters from Oak Brook, Ill., to downtown Chicago this summer. The new headquarters has state-of-the-art features for its employees including a new restaurant with a menu of McDonald’s food items from around the world; a happy meal wall that shares each toy McDonald’s has released in its legacy; huddle rooms for quiet time; communal tables; and a Hamburger University (HU), one of the companies seven learning centers around the world.
Senior Manager, Menu Innovation, at McDonald’s Corporation Chef Mike Lingo gave a behind the scenes tour of the kitchen, and how the food is made and stored to be served freshly. Chef Lingo has maintained and operated stringent safety and quality standards for the food, from the selection of ingredients to preparation and cooking with new upgraded kitchen tools with advanced technology.
Invited participants got a chance to see Chef Mike and another cook make freshly made burgers and eggs. Participants also got an opportunity to make their own “French Toast” breakfast sandwich that may be making its debut soon to the restaurants. Whether it’s a fruit parfait or a big plate of pancakes and eggs, McDonald’s also has and serves many different options for breakfast for people to start their day.
Participants were also given a glimpse into the work McDonald’s has done in the African American community—for its employees and others.
On December 21, 1968, Herman Petty of Chicago opened his first restaurant in the inner-city Chicago, becoming the first Black Owner/Operator of a McDonald’s franchise. Roland Jones was also the first African American Field Consultant with McDonald’s; he worked closely with Petty in his store operations. According to the NBMOA website, “By the end of 1969, there were twelve African American owned and operated McDonald’s restaurants, mostly located in the Midwest. Roland Jones continued to devote long hours and tireless effort in helping the Owner/Operators of the restaurants overcome the many obstacles they faced. To accomplish this task, a series of meetings with operators and store managers began to take place. This sharing of ideas, problems, and concerns eventually led to the formation of the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association in 1972.”
The BMOA of Chicago and Northwest Indiana hosts the “Food for the Body & Spirit” Thanksgiving program, which is a community outreach event serving individuals and families. The BMOA helps people by partnering with local homeless shelters and human services organizations to pinpoint needy families. Each year during the Food for the Body & Spirit program, the BMOA partners with area churches to serve breakfast to those living in transitional/living-assisted homes. The program also consists of various activities, such as free health screenings, flu shots and winter wear giveaways (coats, hats, scarves, gloves). Every year in November they also give over 1000 free turkeys on the South and West sides of Chicago to families in need of food for the holiday.
McDonald’s also sponsors events such as the Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour, 365Black Awards Luncheon and Educational Resources.
During the tour, a woman shared her story on how she went from working at a McDonald’s restaurant to now working at the headquarters. Christa Small is Lead U.S. Operations Business Services; she started as a crew member at age 15 in west suburban Berkeley. She became a summer intern at the headquarters before her freshman year of college and continued to intern throughout her college years. Small returned to the corporate headquarters after earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in computer science engineering.
She has developed performance reviews for over 3,000 independent licensees, managed development and execution of the restaurant operations, performed analytics for the company and many more projects such as the McCafé project and new Kiosk machines.
For more information on future events and resources, go to http://bmoachicagoland.org/
This article originally appeared in the Chicago Defender.