You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Fast Food’ category.
Fred had just observed his 80th birthday, and had served for nearly a decade as Chairman Emeritus of McDonald’s Corporation, the world’s largest restaurant company and a Dow Jones 30 Industrial. He began his McCareer as one of entrepreneur Ray Kroc’s first employees, as a grill man.
Over the years he developed the operating system (Quality, Service and Cleanliness) that made McDonald’s famous. He kept a low profile outside the company, but was a lion to those inside the 34 thousand restaurant organization — employees, franchises and suppliers — which he called the three-legged stool upon which McDonald’s stood. Fred created the training system that introduced millions of employees to the world of responsible work. Hamburger Universities and their home campus, the Fred L. Turner Training Center (which I named) in Oak Brook, IL, are taken very seriously by the generations of managers who are graduates. I hold a Bachelor of Hamburgerology degree, 1985.
I wrote about Fred, as well as fellow business legends,Dick McDonald and Ray Kroc, in my essay for the Chicago Literary Club, “Breakfast With Mr. McDonald.” You can Google it, or go to http://www.chiit.org and search under Ebeling. Fred was a wonderfully irascible character.
2011 Top 10 Largest Chains (by latest-year sales)
|1. McDonald’s - $34.17B
2. Subway - $11.43B
3. Starbucks Coffee - $8.49B
4. Burger King - $8.13B
5. Wendy‘s - $8.11B
|6. Taco Bell - $7.00B
7. Dunkin’ Donuts - $5.93B
8. Pizza Hut - $5.50B
9. KFC - $4.60B
10. Applebee’s - $4.43B
Back in the early 90s, when Warren Buffet owned a $1.5 billion position in McDonald’s stock, he called my office and asked for a little help. It seemed that he and his friend Bill Gates and their families were planning a vacation trip to China, and had chartered a Chinese train to carry them across the country. Buffet was a McDonald’s fan, and asked if we could guide him to our restaurants along his route. We helped make it easy for he and his party to drop in at a McDonald’s whenever their hunger for hamburgers and fries arose. He talked about that trip for years.
By 2008, Buffet had invested $200 million in Chinese transportation, in a major Chinese car company, BYD, which was developing technology and production capability to build electric cars. By the way, BYD means Build Your Dreams. Really. BYD is slow getting off the mark, but they may yet become a factor in the electric car revolution.
Now, in 2012, Buffet appears on Chinese State Television, wishing the country well in their Year of the Dragon Chinese New Years celebration. And then he appears, in the same broadcast, playing his ukulele (http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2012/01/23/see-warren-buffett-sing-and-play-the-ukulele/) in front of a model railroad, singing “I’ve been working on the railroad.” With the background that we know Buffet likes trains, including trains in China, and that Berkshire Hathaway not long back invested $20 billion in the Burlington Northern railroad over here, I wonder if he’s sending a signal that he may now be interested in getting financially involved somehow in the rails in China?
With Manchester, NH, constantly in the news, and tomorrow’s Presidential primary in the media bullseye, I’m reminded of my frequent trips there in the 80s and 90s to meet with a local resident whose name was and is better known than any of the current political candidates, yet the man himself was known to too few.
He was Dick McDonald, co-founder with his brother Mac of the ubiquitous global restaurant chain. He would often meet me at the airport, and I remember arriving one day shortly after a modern McDonald’s had opened inside the terminal. And there was Dick, wandering through in his trench coat and hat, bedazzled by the bright neon, as if he had just landed on the moon. I was head of corporate communications for the company, and our chairman had given me the job of rebuilding our relationship with the man who started fast food in America. His house was on a cul-de-sac of a little street, with a tiny sign above his mailbox with the word “McDonald” on it — surely the smallest McDonald’s sign in the world.
Below is a segment from my essay, “Breakfast With Mr. McDonald” that can be read on the website of the Chicago Literary Club at http://www.chilit.org. Just click on the “Roster of members” and then on my name, Charles Ebeling, and you can read that and other essays I’ve written for the club.
Here’s the excerpt from my essay about a great man of modest ambitions:
Dick McDonald, who lived on until 1998, was first and foremost a kindly man, a gentleman. He was tall and solidly built, with thin gray hair combed back. He was always well dressed, seemingly always wearing a crisp suit or sport coat and tie, with a neat checked pocket square, and a McDonald’s logo pin on his tie or lapel. In retirement, he was a quiet, friendly New Englander, direct and unpretentious, enjoying a slow predictable pace into his twilight years. He was married in 1965 after his retirement and returned to his hometown, with the love of his life, his old high school sweetheart, Dorothy, whom he called Dot.
Dick and Dot lived in a neat, modest tri-level house that must have been new when he moved to Bedford, New Hampshire, a suburb of Manchester, near where they both grew up. He loved to drive and always had one or more new Cadillacs, a luxury he’d acquired when his San Bernardino restaurant became successful. He had moved back to Bedford from California after he retired in 1961. He was to spend much of his time managing his portfolio of stocks and real estate, and actively corresponding with old friends, and with those few who had discovered his pioneering innovations in restaurant service. He was quoted then as saying, “We keep a low profile. We like it that way. We value our privacy.”
They traveled a lot, driving to Arizona and the west coast, to Florida and Canada many times. He and Dot had both been married before. Dick had no children, but Dot had a son, who had two sons of his own whom Dick thought of as his grandchildren. The grandsons would come to stir old pride and determination in their grandfather’s aging bones, and bring back both tensions and gratifications that enlivened the elder’s hours.
Yes, Dick McDonald had experienced a life full of energy and experiment, failures and successes, before that retired life, at the other end of the country, in another time, which we will revisit. But now, in the autumn of his life, he was again beginning to have some fun and was reaping a second round of well-deserved recognition for the spark of entrepreneurship that he and his brother had lit, in the 1940s and 50s, and which had been fanned into an enormous flame of global consumerism by Ray Kroc, founder of the modern McDonald’s Corporation.
This then is the largely untold, eye-witness story of the reemergence, recriminations, reconciliations and the ultimate reverie of Dick McDonald. He was a man, who with his brother Mac played a pivotal pioneering role in the continuing evolution of food service for the mobile lifestyles of our modern civilization. I was given the chance to help bring his story back to life.
My major essay on the history of the French Fry, called “French Fried: From Monticello to the Moon,” is full of the lore of the French Fry and its complex and fascinating historical and cultural background. McDonald’s unique relationship to the French Fry is highlighted. You can find the essay at:
The German Institute of Service Quality (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/10/how-did-ikea-beat-out-mcdonalds-for-germanys-most-popular-fast-food/246164/) has done a new survey in Germany in which furniture store Ikea beat out McDonald’s for fast food service. Seems furniture stores in Germany are promoting breakfast, and even roof garden restaurants, with distinct success and popularity. While this may seem like a fluke in consumerism, the idea of combining a retail consumer experience with fast food does make sense, as evidenced by the McDonald’s we see in Walmarts and gas station service centers in the U.S. Perhaps the idea of window-shopping for furniture — fun but not necessarily costly — is a new draw for fast food customers?
Here’s part of an intelligence report from Scott Hume of burgerbusiness.com, who says this test “pub” burger can be found at the McDonald’s in Geneva, IL too:
“Continuing the globalization of its menu, McDonald’s is testing a sandwich it is marketing as an English Pub Burger. On the menu in Algonquin, IL., the burger was first reported by the blog Within the Empier.
“Essentially, the English Pub Burger is a tarted up Angus Third Pounder burger, to borrow a saucy English expression. The top-heavy build includes the 1/3-lb. Angus beef patty plus hickory-smoked bacon, white Cheddar and American cheeses, grilled onions, steak sauce and smoky Dijon mustard sauce on an “artisan roll” that differs from the current Angus bun.
“The English Pub Burger is priced the same as Angus Third Pounders: $4.49 for the a la carte sandwich,$6.49 for the meal with fries and beverage.
“Marketing material promises “It’s so tasty, you’ll be gobsmacked” and provides a translation of the British idiom as “astonished or astounded.” “
If eating 3 times a day is a sinister idea, then the critics of Ronald McDonald have a point. But what does Ronald do? He helps parents make breakfast, lunch or dinner, or a snack, a happy experience for their kids. Most parents would say that is helpful to them. McDonald’s offers many appealing menu choices for kids and parents, along with known nutrition, portion control and quality control. Add a little parental guidance and what do you have — a Happy Meal! McDonald’s is on the upward curve in nutritional responsibility.
They say reputation is everything. The March 23 edition of Fortune Magazine names McDonald’s among the top 10 overall of the World’s Most-Admired Companies, among 1,400 major U.S. and International companies rated by 4,100 industry experts. McDonald’s rated #1 in 3 of 9 categories: Effectiveness in conducting its business globally; Quality of Management; and, Wise use of corporate assets. McDonald’s also rated #1 in the Food Services category.
Back in the 1990′s, when I was corporate communications officer of McDonald’s, I worked with Fortune for over a year to develop a category within which McDonald’s could be considered for ranking in their “Most-Admired” search. From a simple hamburger stand created by Dick and Mac McDonald, to a corporation and a brand nurtured by Ray Kroc and generations of leaders, McDonald’s is now known and admired around the world. McDonald’s has come a long way.
For more information, go to this Fortune website: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/mostadmired/2011/index.html
There was a time when the French had a big cultural problem with the company that built it’s success on what else than the French Fry. Activists made the term “culinary imperialism” into their anti-McDonald’s mantra. But those days are long gone. McDonald’s first innovated a policy called “Open Doors” in France, inviting the suspicious news media and the critics among the public to comes behind the scenes in its restaurants and suppliers to see that French people were serving them quality food from predominantly French suppliers. Now they can say the same thing about the beef. See this article from http://www.burgerbusiness.com for the details. http://www.burgerbusiness.com/?p=6402&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+burgerbusiness+%28βurgerβusiness%29