"I’m lovin’ it”

6631 West North Ave, Wauwatosa

(414) 475-0055

Website

Monday-Thursday

6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Friday-Saturday

Lobby: 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Drive-thru: 6 a.m.-midnight

Sunday

Lobby: 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

Drive-thru: 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

Since 1955, we’ve been proud to serve the world some of its favorite food. And along the way, we’ve managed not just to live history, but create it: from drive-thru restaurants to Chicken McNuggets to college credits from Hamburger U and much more. It’s been quite the journey, and we promise this is just the beginning – we’ve got our hearts set on making more history. (from the McDonald’s website)

Owner/operator of Wauwatosa-East Town restaurant:

Marshall Chay (B.A. Management, ’83)

His backstory:

The “M” ring Chay wears signifies his deep commitment to the McDonald’s brand and to his own store. First stepping foot behind a McDonald’s counter at age 16 making $1.35 an hour, four decades later Chay is continuing his long history with the franchise as an owner/operator of a growing and well-established store in the heart of Wauwatosa’s East Town.

Throughout his career, he rose through the ranks, eventually owning nine stores in the Milwaukee area (five in Milwaukee and one each in Brown Deer, Mequon, Fox Point and Wauwatosa). Wanting to focus more on volunteering and charity, he gradually gave up his stake in eight of the stores while keeping and fully investing in the newest one, which is closest to his Wauwatosa home. Now, in his one remaining store, he regularly works the morning shift at the drive-thru, personally greeting many customers. It’s likely, throughout his career, that he’s worked at some point in every Milwaukee-area store.

Most popular menu item:

Breakfast: Egg McMuffin, with recent growth of the Egg White Delight McMuffin (a healthier option with 60 fewer calories)

Lunch/dinner: Quarter Pounder with Cheese

(Interesting fact: The Big Mac used to be the most popular sandwich, but Chay said with more people eating their food on the go, the more popular option is the less messy Quarter Pounder. Sixty percent of customers order at the drive-thru.)

Chay’s favorite order:

Breakfast: Burrito with hot sauce

Lunch/dinner: “I still crave a Big Mac. Everybody laughs that I still love it after 43 years. The special sauce never changes.”

Points of pride:

Overall success: Once a low-performing store, Chay bought it, remodeled it and tripled the sales, gaining the support of the neighborhood in the process.

Drive-thru: The drive thru’s face-to-face ordering system is friendlier and more accurate and helps them overcome the challenge of a small parking lot that only accommodates up to six cars in the drive-thru line. “That’s why I concentrate so much on the drive thru to make sure the wheels are continually moving and the service is where it needs to be.”

Relationships: Being active in the business and at the counter means Chay knows many customers by name and by order. He estimates that out of the approximately 117 cars per hour that may come through the drive-thru on a given morning, 90 likely are the same every day.

Secrets to success:

The staff: The McDonald’s staff is hired personally by Chay, who knows them well and expects a high level of service from them. But he also takes good care of them, as evidenced by the longevity of his staff. Two managers started with Chay 23 years ago when he first became an owner. As for the rest of his crew, the average tenure is 10 years, “which is unheard of at a McDonald’s. If you take care of your people, they’ll take care of your customers in that same manner. I never come in acting like the boss. I like to have fun with my people.”

Staying relevant: “We change with the times, like with our McCafé drinks, salads and healthy options.”

Business philosophy:

“You can sell burgers or you can sell paint or anything, but it’s still a people business.” The McDonald’s credo: quality, service, cleanliness, value and convenience.

Other ventures:

In 2009, Chay and his wife of 38 years, Jenny, established ACME Enterprises, a foundation named for his children (Anna, Catherine, Michael and Elisabeth) which supports organizations focused on confronting hunger and helping children.

Civic involvements:

He is a board member of the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern Wisconsin and a former member of the Education Foundation of Wauwatosa.

Stritch memories:

Chay enrolled in one of Stritch’s first groups in the pioneering accelerated business programs for working adults because he felt he needed to further his education to climb the management ranks. Within four months of completing his degree, McDonald’s promoted him from store manager to area supervisor. “I attribute it to continuing and finishing my degree in business management with Cardinal Stritch University.”

Future plans:

Focused on his one store and his nonprofit work, Chay plans to continue enjoying time at his house in Fort Myers, Fla. In the next 7-10 years, he foresees another update to the store, with possibly a significant renovation.

His children all worked at McDonald’s at some point, and he is hopeful he can pass on the business and his foundation to one or more family members some day.

Summing it up:

“When people ask why I still go to work every day, I say, ‘I love it. I’ve got ketchup in my veins.’”