All five local McDonald’s are under new ownership — McEnaney Family McDonald’s, which also owns eight other locations in western Kentucky. The new owners have a multi-year plan to raise the standards of the Owensboro locations, though they said customers should start seeing improvements almost immediately.
Chris, who lives in Madisonville, is technically the primary owner of all five Owensboro locations plus two sites in Madisonville. His father is the primary owner of five of their other locations and his mother owns one. However, they all operate under the umbrella of McEnaney Family McDonald’s, and Chris oversees all 13 stores and makes his rounds to check in at all locations.
The family business has roots reaching back to 1980, when Chris’ mother and father both started as crew people at a McDonald’s in St. Louis. His father worked his way through the ranks to become the Director of Operations of an owner/operator organization that oversaw 22 locations.
Through a relationship with the owner, Chris’ father received an opportunity in 1999 to purchase three locations in western Kentucky (Princeton, Eddyville, and Marion), which he did. Chris was 10 years old at the time.
“I was working, cleaning PlayPlaces since I was 10 years old. As they say in the business, I’ve had ketchup from my blood from the very beginning,” he said.
The McEnaney family business continued to grow. They bought the two McDonald’s locations in Hopkinsville in 2003, one in Providence in 2009, and the two in Madisonville in 2018 (the year Chris became an operator). They took over ownership of the five Owensboro locations on Aug. 1.
“We’re excited to be in the community,” he said. “We have a great plan going forward.”
McEnaney said the first thing they did was analyze each Owensboro location to see where their “biggest opportunity” was. Within the first week, they moved one of the general managers to the location in Wesleyan Park Plaza, “which seems to be the restaurant that needs the most love” according to McEnaney.
Much of the work in the beginning involves bringing in people to train the current employees to the McEnaney standards. McEnaney said he’s bringing in store manager Amy Fostervold from another location and a people manager who will both lead training, an operation supervisor “to basically mentor all five of the restaurants,” and a director of operations.
“We’re bringing a lot of support into these restaurants,” McEnaney said. “We have a training plan where we’re going to be focusing on staffing, scheduling, and positioning, then giving the crew people the proper tools to be successful in the future.”
McEnaney said they also have already addressed some maintenance issues.
“We came in and we analyzed what was broken,” he said. “Some of these poor crew had been working with fryers and other equipment down for months, things that we were able to fix within 48 hours.”
McEnaney said by showing the crew that upper management cares about employees will eventually lead to a better product for customers.
“Showing the crew that tender loving care and that we’re invested with them is going to be able to trickle down to the consumer,” he said. “We like to really create a family environment, and we like to be really empowering and show our care to our crew, because the best way to take care of your external customers is to take care of the internal customers.”
All of the McDonald’s in Owensboro were built when they were owned by the McDonald’s Corporation. Eventually the Corporation stopped running their own restaurants, so the local restaurants were sold to an operator out of Ohio.
McEnaney said that didn’t work out for a few reasons, including that it’s hard to run five restaurants from that far away. He said he was contacted by McDonald’s and they were able to get the change of ownership.
McEnaney said he knows there have been issues at the local McDonald’s over the last year or so, and it showed in their market share.
“This market has slipped 20% in the last year, and I know there’s been a lot of disappointments,” he said. “We’re here to turn that around. We’re here to fix that. And we will.”
Anyone who experiences an issue can reach out on their McEnaney Family McDonald’s Facebook Page.
McEnaney acknowledged the project “is a large overtaking” but said they have a 3- to 5- year plan.
“But each month you’re gonna see more and more improvements. This isn’t our first time taking over restaurants that had challenges and turning them around,” he said. “We did the same thing in Madisonville and Hopkinsville. So we understand the formula of what it takes to turn these kinds of restaurants around.”
McEnaney said he wants the community to know he’ll be hands-on and truly cares about the local customers.
“I am a Kentucky boy at heart,” he said. “Our family believes in the values of small communities. We’re looking to get more involved in this community, and if there’s anything that we can help partner with or there’s anything that we can do for Owensboro, we’re here for it. We’re hoping that you guys can see the improvements throughout the years and throughout the months. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us.”