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Black Woman Reopens South Side McDonald’s, Will Build Partnerships With Nearby Schools

10/9/2019, noon | Updated on 10/9/2019, noon
A grand re-opening ceremony was recently held for the McDonalds at 207 E. 35th St. in Bronzeville which is now ...
Tonette Williams (center) recently became one of the newest members of the Black McDonald’s Operators Association in Chicago after celebrating the opening of her fi rst McDonalds at 207 E. 35th St. in Bronzeville. Photo Credit: Jerome Simmons

Black Woman Reopens South Side McDonald’s, Will Build Partnerships With Nearby Schools

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

A grand re-opening ceremony was recently held for the McDonalds at 207 E. 35th St. in Bronzeville which is now owned and operated by Tonette Williams, a south side native and one of the newest members of the Black McDonald’s Operators Association (BMOA) in Chicago.

Growing up, Williams saw entrepreneurship first hand as both her father and mother were small business owners on the south side of Chicago.

“My parents are both entrepreneurs. My dad was a small business owner for 40 years, he owned a liquor store on the south east side of the city and my mother owned boutique clothing stores,” said Williams. “Small business ownership and that entrepreneurial spirit is just really in my blood.”

Williams said that her father planted the seed early for her to become an entrepreneur and even as she began her career as a public school teacher, she always had in the back of her mind that she wanted to own a McDonald’s restaurant one day.

“I taught in Chicago Public Schools for 10 years,” said Williams. “My top three career choices were to become a principal somewhere, to open my own childcare center, or to become a McDonald’s owner-operator. So, this is something I’ve wanted to do for 20 years and I’m excited to be at this point. My dad, as a small business owner, really admired the McDonald’s franchise and he knew a few owner-operators and he always expressed regret of not looking a little further into becoming a franchisee. So, like I said, he planted that seed in me and I really do love McDonald’s.”

As a business owner in Bronzeville, Williams said that she plans on building partnerships with neighborhood schools, churches, and other businesses to better leverage herself as a community stakeholder.

“We’re surrounded by so many schools. There are about five high schools in the area and most people see teenagers come in and they say, ‘oh my goodness, here they come’ but me being a former educator, I’m the opposite. I love seeing them walk through the door in the evening. I love the teenagers,” said Williams.

Over the last several weeks, Williams said she has met with the administration at a few of the surrounding high schools to talk about implementing a student of the month program in partnership with her McDonald’s along with providing employment opportunities for students from the neighborhood.

Additionally, Williams is exploring ways to minimize the amount of food that is wasted at her McDonalds by setting up a partnership with Matthew House Chicago, a homeless shelter in Bronzeville.

“My first day in the restaurant, when it was time to close I saw the food we were about to throw out and I was like oh my goodness, I don’t want to do this every day and I don’t want to throw away this kind of food,” said Williams. “Now, I’m in the process of trying to find out what I need to do so I can donate to the Matthew House shelter.”