This 66-year-old has worked at McDonald’s for 50 years: ‘I never thought it would be my forever job’
This 66-year-old has worked at McDonald’s for 50 years: ‘I never thought it would be my forever job’


In the Seventies, the best job you possibly can have was flipping burgers at McDonald’s. 

At least in line with Paul Hendel. He began working at the newly opened McDonald’s in Merrick, New York on the south shore of Long Island in 1973 when he was simply 16 years previous, excited to snack on limitless french fries and hang around along with his mates between shifts. The gig paid $1.85 an hour.

“Believe it or not, you wanted to have an in to get a job at McDonald’s again then, so my brother, who was working within the kitchen, really helpful me for the job,” Hendel, 66, tells CNBC Make It. “Everybody needed to work there.”

Hendel did not see a future at his highschool job previous commencement. He was accepted to C.W. Post University (now Long Island University), and deliberate to graduate with a bachelor’s diploma in enterprise with a focus in advertising and be a part of his dad, Hank, who worked for a brokerage agency on Wall Street.

Fifty years later, Hendel owns and operates 31 McDonald’s places throughout Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, together with the flagship restaurant in Times Square.

“I never thought it would be my forever job,” says Hendel. “But I can also’t think about working wherever else.”

The dialog that modified the trajectory of his profession

In 1975, Hendel was about to stop his job at the Merrick McDonald’s forward of his first semester of faculty when his then-boss provided him a promotion: McDonald’s was opening a brand new location half-hour away in Glen Cove and desperately wanted an assistant supervisor. 

Hendel accepted the job, figuring he may use the cash to assist pay for tuition and books.

“There had been a few events that I missed, and I wasn’t joyful about that, however it actually paid off after I graduated, as a result of I had zero debt and was actually forward of the pack when it comes to work expertise and networking with that job,” says Hendel. “Plus, being trusted to open a brand new restaurant once you’re an 18-year-old child is fairly thrilling.”

Hendel rapidly proved himself to be a invaluable asset to the group, volunteering for late-night shifts and enhancing the onboarding course of for new crew members. Within three years, he was promoted to normal supervisor.

In 1980, as soon as he graduated school, Hendel discovered himself once more at a crossroads: Should he be a part of his dad on Wall Street, the place he may probably earn more money, or preserve working at McDonald’s, in a job he was good at and loved? 

“I used to be significantly contemplating placing my two-week discover in and the proprietor/operator of the restaurant, Peter Hunt, will need to have learn my thoughts as a result of he goes, ‘Paul, I do not need you to depart. I’m going to make you a supervisor of 5 McDonald’s places in Nassau County, and it’ll include a increase and an organization automotive,'” Hendel recollects.

After speaking with mates and studying some job listings, Hendel realized the provide got here with a a lot greater wage than he would have made his first yr working at a agency on Wall Street (Hendel declined to share his earlier and present wage with CNBC Make It). 

Paul Hendel at a McDonald’s in Oceanside, New York in 1986.

Photo courtsy of McDonald’s

Still, he felt conflicted. Hendel requested his dad for recommendation earlier than accepting the provide at McDonald’s. That dialog, he says, “modified the trajectory of my profession.” 

“We had been out to dinner, and I discussed the provide from Hunt, and my dad’s first query — I’ll never overlook it — was, ‘Do you want what you do?'” says Hendel. “And I mentioned, ‘Yeah, I actually love it.’ And he goes, ‘Do you suppose you are good at it?’ And I mentioned, ‘Well I simply acquired promoted!'” 

He continues: “Then he mentioned, ‘Paul, if that is what you love to do, and also you’re good at it, keep on with it as a result of I’m not loopy about my job or commuting into Manhattan every single day.’ I spotted, then, that work is not nearly getting a paycheck each week. I’m so glad he gave me the recommendation he did, as a result of I nonetheless love what I do.”

‘I do not wish to have the phrase ‘retired’ absolutely subsequent to my title’

Another side of working at McDonald’s that excited Hendel in his 20s was the chance to grow to be an proprietor/operator, overseeing the day-to-day operations of a restaurant and managing his personal workers. It’s additionally a profitable gig: ZipRecruiter estimates that proprietor/operators at McDonald’s earn as much as $400,000 per yr.

“The alternatives that McDonald’s presents actually are limitless,” says Hendel. “I’ve worked with individuals who began as crew members, then promoted to proprietor/operators in a number of years and have become millionaires.”

In 1990, Hendel grew to become the proprietor/operator of his first McDonald’s restaurant in Brooklyn. “From there, I’ve gotten one other restaurant nearly yearly.” 

Hendel says working in Brooklyn taught him the significance of time administration, compassion and dealing with points “rapidly and calmly” in a fast-paced surroundings. “You should be actually good with folks once you’re managing a workers and serving over 1,000 clients a day at every restaurant,” he provides. 

Paul Hendel and his kids Lauren and Mark at a current McDonald’s occasion for workers.

Photo courtesy of McDonald’s

Hendel nonetheless works 5 days every week and spends most of his time within the eating places he owns, checking in on workers and any ongoing development or renovations at the properties.

The expertise Hendel depends on to do his job have not modified in many years, Hendel jokes, and neither has his McDonald’s order. “My favourite remains to be 1 / 4 pounder with cheese,” he says.

Hendel hasn’t given retirement a lot thought. “Is it actually working so long as you are doing one thing you’re keen on?” he says. 

Eventually, Hendel expects that he’ll step by step section out of his function, passing on extra obligations to his son, Mark, and daughter, Lauren, who grew to become proprietor/operators of McDonald’s franchises in 2019 and 2022, respectively.

“I’d wish to have the flexibleness to wind down at work, so I’ve extra time for golf, going out on my boat and spending time with my household,” says Hendel. “But I do not wish to have the phrase ‘retired’ absolutely subsequent to my title.”

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