A man who has worked at McDonald’s restaurants in New York for more than 50 years says he found his “forever job” as a teenager.
Paul Hendel, 66, started working at a McDonald’s in Merrick when he was 16 years old in 1973.
Hendel started working at McDonald’s after his brother, a chef at the restaurant, recommended him for the job.
Instead of leaving his job in 1975 as planned, Hendel took a position as an assistant manager at the McDonald’s in Glen Cove, NY, eventually earning a position as general manager three years later.
When he graduated from college in 1980, Hendel had the choice of staying at McDonald’s or applying for a job on Wall Street – he chose McDonald’s.
Paul Hendel, 66, started working at McDonald’s in 1973 at the age of 16. Today he owns and operates 31 restaurants in New York.
Hendel received an assistant management position at their Glen Cove, New York location in 1975 and was promoted to general manager in 1978
His decision was apparently a difficult one, as Hendel recounted CNBC Make it that his boss promoted him when he had to choose between the fast food franchise and Wall Street.
Hendel said: ‘I seriously considered giving my two weeks’ notice and the restaurant’s owner/operator, Peter Hunt, must have read my mind.’
“He says, ‘Paul, I don’t want you to leave.’ I’m going to make you supervisor of five McDonald’s locations in Nassau County, and that will come with a raise and a company car,'” Hendel added. .
The longtime McDonald’s employee sought advice from friends and, after researching job postings, discovered that his promotion to supervisor came with a much higher salary than he would have earned during his first year on Wall Street.
Hendel eventually spoke to his father, who happened to be working on Wall Street in Manhattan at the time of their conversation.
The first McDonald’s restaurant that Hendel owned and operated was in Brooklyn, NY. Hendel now owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan
When he brought up the promotion Hunt was offering him, Hendel’s father asked, “Do you like what you do?”
Hendel told his father that he loved his job, and that he must have been doing well since he was recently promoted.
“He said, ‘Paul, if that’s what you love to do, and you’re good at it, then stick with it, because I don’t love my job or the daily commute to Manhattan,’” Hendel added.
‘I’m so glad he gave me the advice. I still love what I do.’
The opportunities continued to grow, and his role at the fast-food chain quickly expanded in his 20s, overseeing operations and managing his own staff.
The restaurant owner hasn’t thought much about retirement after working for the fast food chain for fifty years
According to Hendel, the possibilities at McDonald’s are ‘limitless’.
“I’ve worked with people who started as crew members, were promoted to owner/operators and became millionaires within a few years,” he stated.
Today he owns and operates 31 restaurants in New York. He spends his time checking on employees, construction and renovation work in his restaurants.
He’s been thinking about what it would be like to give more restaurant responsibilities to his children, Mark and Lauren, who, like their father, own and operate their own McDonald’s restaurants.
Once Hendel is done working, he hopes to have the flexibility to do things like golf, boating and spend time with his family.
The restaurant owner isn’t thinking about retirement yet and tells CNBC Make It that he doesn’t want the word retired next to his name.