McDonald's Happiness Tour

Local McDonald’s Employees Honored for English Under the Arches Participation

On the evening of July 18, nine local McDonald’s employees gathered in Haverhill, Mass. to be recognized for their hard work and dedication in learning English through English Under the Arches (EUA), a free education program offered by McDonald’s. Through the program, employees from local Owner/Operator David Yee’s restaurants completed a 22-week English skills course at no cost to them.  The course was facilitated by local ESL teachers and encouraged students to continue on with English education. The students, some of whom have been employed by McDonald’s for more than a decade, celebrated their accomplishment alongside their managers, McDonald’s restaurant Owner/Operators, top company directors, family and friends. Many graduates hope their new skills will help them reach their dream of become restaurant managers, and several will continue on to the next EUA course focusing on English writing skills.

English Under the Arches is a segment of McDonald’s larger educational program Archways to Opportunity, which offers free educational programs to employees – from a GED certification through graduate school. Congratulations to the graduates, teachers and local McDonald’s leaders who continue to make this program a success!

McBee Family Encourages Employees to Take Educational Strides

The holidays are the season for giving, but the McBee family – Mark, Janise and Sam, McDonald’s Owner/Operators, and Gabrielle McBee, Human Resources Director for the McBee’s organization – show appreciation for their employees year round with an invaluable gift – education. To the benefit of their employees, the McBees utilize the McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program. Archways facilitates educational reimbursements for McDonald’s employees – helping them finish their high school educations and move on to college, and even work toward graduate degrees.

With Archways, McDonald’s hopes to lead the fast food industry in promoting workforce education. Not only does educating employees help support business operations, but it also ensures employee success and advancement – leading to healthy and sustaining communities to own businesses in.

The McBee-owned restaurants have helped 12 employees in their Brockton restaurant alone receive money towards their college tuition – a total educational reimbursement of more than $10,000.

“Our employees have truly taken advantage of our Archways to Opportunity education reimbursement plan, and we’re so thrilled to help reward them for their hard work at our restaurants,” said Gabrielle McBee. “We will continue encouraging others to apply for this program, helping them through the process, and ensuring they know we are here to support their dreams.”

The McBee family’s restaurants are located throughout Cape Cod and other towns in Massachusetts. Their overall goal in utilizing Archways to Opportunity is to encourage crew members to pursue their college dreams and aspirations. Archways programs include online high school courses, English language courses, educational advising and college-level coursework.

For more information about Archways to Opportunity, visit:

Lovin’ Lobster

McDonald’s Lobster Roll is back and ready for summer in New England

Nothing says ‘summer in New England’ like a mouth-watering, finger-licking, piled high lobster roll! Every New Englander has their top stop for a famous lobster roll, but after a 10 year hiatus, McDonald’s may be taking over the lobster roll game again. This month, McDonald’s New England locations began offering the seafood special, and both local and national media went wild:

At participating McDonald’s restaurants in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, customers can now get their hands on the newest menu item. While some may be hesitant to try, others have been pleasantly surprised after snacking on the tasty limited-time offering. staff writer Rachel Raczka was one of the first to dive in: “As staunch New Englanders, we braced ourselves for the worst, but we were pleasantly surprised: lots of lobster, not a lot of mayo, soft, lightly toasted bread, and fresh lettuce.”

With big flavor usually comes a big price tag, but not in this case. “For a limited time, folks in the northeast who’d rather eat their lobster roll in a car than, say, by the sea, can do so for $7.99,” explains Huffington Post reporter Kate Bratskeir. “The cost is steep for the average bite at Mickey D’s — the Filet-O-Fish, for example, is $3.49 — but since lobster rolls can cost upward of $15, it could be considered a steal.” Want to add a drink and some French fries? For just $3.00 more, customers can get a whole value meal for less than what one sandwich with no sides would cost them.

“With just 290 calories, the roll also has one of the lowest calorie counts for a McDonald’s menu item. To put it in perspective, a Big Mac has 530 calories,” reports USA Today’s Mary Bowerman. The roll has only 6 grams of total fat and a healthy 24 grams of protein.

Wondering which parts of the lobster each Lobster Roll holds? “McDonald’s lobster rolls consist of primarily claw meat, with the rest being made from knuckles and legs,” explained New York Daily News’ Peter Sblendorio. says, “McDonald’s in New England has adopted a touch of class.” So put on your nicest outfit, freshen up, and head over to your local McDonald’s to be a part of the Lovin’ Lobster phenomenon.

Head to your local New England McDonald’s today to get your claws on your own Lobster Roll, and tweet us what you think!

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One on One: Vincent Spadea, Owner-Operator, The Sellia Group

Worcester Telegram & Gazette, May 31, 2015

Eating at one of 17 local McDonald’s “five or six times a week” is part of businessman Vincent Spadea’s weekly routine. He’s not a customer, though. Mr. Spadea, of Spencer, owns and operates 17 McDonald’s restaurants in Worcester County with his father, Joseph, who opened his first McDonald’s in 1981; as well as business partner David Balducci. “Any time I’m in one of my restaurants, I eat there. My favorite menu items would have to be the McWrap, fries and the chocolate shake,” said Mr. Spadea, who became an official owner-operator in 2009. The Spadeas’ Sellia Group employs about 500 people in their chain of McDonald’s, he said.

Lately, McDonald’s has been criticized for being out of touch with consumers on prices and the healthiness of its menu. Has the negative publicity affected sales at your restaurants?

“In my opinion, McDonald’s needed an awakening in recent years. We’ve found that the more we listen to our customers, the more successful our restaurants become. We’ve recently taken strides to better incorporate the customer feedback we receive and use that as an opportunity to change for the better. Since approaching the business with this new strategy, we’ve seen a huge spike in sales for iced coffee, regular coffee, Happy Meals, chicken tenders, real fruit smoothies and more. We’ve also found that local mothers and families in particular have been more receptive to us, now that we’re making an extra effort to put their comments in motion.”

How much do you control the menus at your restaurants?

“The McDonald’s Owner/Operators of Eastern New England have the opportunity to give feedback and provide input for our region (Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire). We vote on what limited-time-only products we’ll serve at our restaurants. For instance, we voted to have lobster rolls in our restaurants this summer, which will be coming out soon and are delicious, meeting the unique taste of New Englanders. We have a voice both regionally and nationally that allows us to meet the demands of our customers.”

Which healthy choice options do the customers at your restaurants say they want added?

“Over the last few years, customers have asked for a greater variety of salads and healthy options, which we’ve addressed. The lobster roll is only 290 calories and is the perfect addition to our menu to meet summer demand. We’ve also introduced the McWrap and Egg White Delight, which have been received incredibly well by my local customers. We also now have a variety of salad options – my favorite is the Premium Southwest Salad with grilled chicken.”

If you could add an item to McDonald’s menu, what would it be and why?

“I would choose to streamline the core menu items and keep on some iconic customer favorites, like our World Famous Fries, the Big Mac and Quarter-Pounders. I’d also like to continue adding healthier menu options, as my customers have appreciated those items.”

Describe your typical day.

“I’m an early bird, so I start by day before the sun is up. I hop in my car and drive to CrossFit and typically make phone calls to my field service reps on the way home. Once home, I take a quick shower, change and respond to urgent emails from my home office in Spencer. The rest of the day I’m on the road traveling between our restaurants. Some days I’m in one restaurant for the entire day, while others I’m driving 200 or 300 miles to visit several restaurants. While there, I try to learn as much as I can about our crew, discussing what they need and how to keep them motivated. I then end my day with either a family dinner or meeting friends for a quick bite.”

Do you have plans to renovate your restaurants and-or open additional ones?

“Yes, we recently renovated three of our restaurants (in Whitinsville, Oxford and Marlboro), and we’re currently in the process of renovating our Milford restaurant. We plan to renovate all of our 17 restaurants over the next few years and are always looking for growth opportunities.”

Compiled by correspondent Michael Gelbwasser
Photo credit: Worcester Telegram & Gazette/Paul Kapteyn
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New owner of Meriden McDonald’s has ‘ketchup in his veins’

MERIDEN — Joseph Rodriguez earned the nicknamed Schmear Man because he was good at putting blood on the slides in the laboratory at the New York Institute for Technology.

Rodriguez also worked at a family McDonald’s since age 10, and supported himself with two jobs while in college.

In a lesson about the value of a medical education, a professor asked the class:

“ ‘What do you want to do with the rest of your life: flip burgers at McDonald’s?’ ” Rodriguez recalled.

“I said ‘what’s wrong with that?’”

In his third year of college, Rodriguez considered the years of schooling ahead of him to make a decent living in medicine, versus the skills he had already acquired. In a solid reversal of his professor’s intention; he switched majors and dove headfirst into the burger business.

“I have ketchup in my veins,” he likes to say.

Rodriguez closed on his 10th franchise last month at Townline Square on the Meriden-Wallingford border. He has other McDonald’s operations in Derby, New Haven, West Haven, Canaan, Plainville, Bristol and New Britain.

“I realized I never left McDonald’s,” he said at the Townline Square McDonald’s this week. “ I am a people person. My mission is to have passion for what we do. I decided to go the business route. I went to the McDonald’s Hamburger University in Chicago and got a degree in hamburgerology.”

At the university, Rodriquez studied the food business, dealing with the public, marketing and more.

As Rodriguez acquired restaurants, the McDonald’s brand struggled to redefine its brand to an increasingly health-conscious buying public. It introduced salads, fruits and vegetables, even an artisan chicken sandwich. The restaurants themselves redesigned their interiors with cafe seating and lighting to attract value-conscious laptop users while keeping family-friendly prices. But it’s not certain the strategy is working.

“They certainly are doing a whole lot right now,” said Konrad Gessler, a project manager with the New England Consulting Group of Guilford. “There seems to be a lack of a strong strategy. They are really being squeezed in all directions. It’s tough being a QSR (quick service restaurant) right now. McDonald’s has the opportunity to bounce back, it’s just a very strategically complex time in their industry.”

Gessler said the best advertisement McDonald’s produced romanced the Big Mac with the assurance it would never be a veggie burger.

“It was speaking to what McDonald’s does best,” Gessler said.

To Rodriguez, that means finding its place in the community.

He joined his family in buying a McDonald’s in 1991 near the Bronx Zoo. They held a rodeo event at the restaurant that caught the eye of the McDonald’s corporate office, which offered the family another store in New Haven. The family later decided to sell its New York stores and expand in Connecticut.

Rodriguez bought his first McDonald’s in West Haven in 2000, followed by stores in Derby and the Westville section of New Haven. He underwent renovations in West Haven, and completed three rebuilds in other towns valued at $4.8 million in four years. The New Haven McDonald’s has a game room and meeting space, used by the local Board of Alderman.

McDonald’s corporation helped with some of the financing on the rebuilds.

After the renovations, he bought the McDonald’s in Canaan, and fell in love with the area, he also has restaurants in Bristol, and Plainville. His company headquarters in Southbury is where he oversees the 10 stores, a director of operations, two supervisors, 112 managers and 500 employees. Work weeks are 60 to 80 hours.

Rodriguez believes in strong community connections the same way he thinks about his faith – both are essential to success. Rodriguez and his wife Anna adopted their first child in 2007, and Rodriguez became a Christian. Soon after they learned Anna was pregnant with twins. A daughter followed in 2009 and in May 2013, they adopted another child.

“In the Rodriguez family, we try to make it appeal to family,” Rodriguez said. “Our community is family. You have to be able to look at your business and say what do I have to do to cater to my town and my community.”

Rodriguez hosted Three Kings Day parties in New Britain where local politicians, including Mayor Erin Stewart and store executives dress up as the three wise men to dole out toys for local children. More than 1,000 toys were given away.

During National People Day he gave away 480 turkeys to all of his employees.

“It’s a little gesture, but it means a lot,” he said.

He recently recorded a commercial for Telemundo at the Meriden store announcing a special on egg-white McMuffins.

Rodriguez said the egg whites, lettuce and tomato are fresher than what’s in the local grocery store and McDonald’s has stepped up to offer what is healthy.

“It’s great to be able to give people choices,” he said.

With 10 stores, McDonald’s considers him “a large operator,” he said. The cost of franchises vary based on traffic and revenue.

He grins when asked if there are any more deals for more stores in the works.

“I’ll accept whatever the Lord gives me,” he said.


By Mary Ellen Godin, Record-Journal staff
Photo credit: Meriden Record-Journal/David Zajac
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