Harlem McDonald’s Franchisee Ron Bailey Spurs Students’ Dreams

macdonaolds in harlem

At the end of the 2013 school year, Johnathan Forbes, a high school senior at KIPP NYC College Prep in the Bronx, walked into the Harlem McDonald’s looking for a summer job. 

When he sat down with franchisee Ron Bailey, Forbes expected run-of-the-mill interview questions about his past work experience. Instead, Bailey wanted to know about the 19-year-old’s long-term career goals.

‘College is the goal, and you’re going to get there.’”

“He asked me more about my future and about what I plan on doing after high school,” recalls Forbes. “And ever since, he kept me on a straight path to success with constant encouragement, always telling me, ‘College is the goal, and you’re going to get there.’”

Forbes’s story is similar to those of other student-employees who have worked at Bailey’s restaurant.

The franchisee, bolstered by a unique blend of humor and candor, has received unanimous praise for his commitment to the success of his crew people.

“Mr. Bailey has jokes for days, he’s hilarious. But when he needs to be serious, he’s serious,” says Daijah Bell.  “On top of all the schoolwork, we had exams and college applications, so he knew we needed as much support as we could get.”

A McDonald’s franchisee for 25 years, Bailey serves as both a mentor and a father figure to many of his student-employees. In addition to providing them with the fundamental leadership and management skills needed to succeed at the Golden Arches, he also values the personal connection fostered with each of them.

“I have a passion for McDonald’s, and I have a passion for ensuring that our young people be the best they can be,” says Bailey. “Because the things that our Millennials, that our young people do and are capable of… It’s amazing.”

“Mr. Bailey helped me refocus myself, because I was getting lost in the mix of school and applications,” says Kevin Brea, 18, who has been working at the Harlem restaurant since 2013. “He always has something positive to say to us, always something encouraging to boost our spirits.”

…the importance of positive reinforcement and mentorship, especially in helping to empower inner city youth. Today, he exercises these principles through his unique management style, which emphasizes education, responsibility and accountability.

Prior to becoming a McDonald’s franchisee, Bailey had a long and successful career as a public relations officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. During his 15 year tenure with the LAPD, Bailey learned the importance of positive reinforcement and mentorship, especially in helping to empower inner city youth. Today, he exercises these principles through his unique management style, which emphasizes education, responsibility and accountability.

Bailey hopes the success of Forbes, Bell and Brea, each of whom are entering their first year of college this month, will encourage other young people to rethink the opportunities that McDonald’s has to offer.

“I’m really proud of what we do because I always had this frustration about the stigma of McDonald’s being a dead end job,” says Bailey. “And I tell everyone, take any of my kids and ask them ‘Do you think this is a dead end job?’ And you’ll be amazed at their response.”

Mr. Bailley follows in the footsteps of Harlem’s Robert Lee Dunham, who was the first McDonald’s Restaurant owner in New York City.

Here’s an inspiring video with Mr. Bailey:

McDonald’s, 444 Malcolm X Blvd., (at 132nd  Street), Harlem USA, (212) 283-7798, https://mylocalmcds.com/lenox-132-mcdonalds/

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