The owner-operators of Alabama McDonald’s larryand Dale Thortonserve as successful entrepreneurs and community leaders, but maintain a father-son bond that includes the family business.
Larry Thornton Sr, father of three, who became the first McDonald’s franchise owner in Birmingham, Alabama in 1992, inhelped his children learn the trade and gave his son Dale his first job at the age of ten.
“My parents were very religious and so you know you go to church or you go to work and so I got old enough that I couldn’t fall asleep in church anymore so that’s how I started going to work,” Dale told Black. Company. “I remember on the first day of July 20, 1992, I was making $2 an hour and I think I worked 9 1/2 hours and my dad gave me the $20 bill and that’s at That’s when I fell in love with making my own money.”
For Dale, in addition to earning money, he spent invaluable time watching his father run his McDonald’s franchise. Growing up, Dale took on more responsibility, working on the register, in the kitchen and in the corporate chain, eventually getting his own McDonald’s franchise at age 25.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am that he chose this and I hope he would because it comes down to this statement that I never wanted anyone to ask what happened to that black man who owned McDonald’s?” said Larry Thornton.
“Well, that hasn’t happened in 30 years and with Dale’s interest, enthusiasm and passion for the business, we hope we won’t have to hear that for another 30 or 40 years. It was a joy to watch him grow from a playground manager through college, get a business degree and be here today, I can’t think of anything better than having the opportunity to grow together and watch it.
In 2011, Larry gave his alma mater the largest donation in the school’s 150-year history with the help of McDonald’s. Dale is set to give the same gift to Miles College with the help of the fast food giant.
“Watching what my dad did, I was motivated to do the same for my school,” Dale said. BLACK BUSINESS.
“Miles is a small HBCU, but it changed my life and gave me the opportunity to start and move forward.”
Outside of running his McDonald’s, Larry is a authorentertainer and motivational speaker, who sits on the board of directors directors of Coca-Cola United one of the largest independent bottlers in the country. Dale is also a member of several McDonald’s boards, including the Works from Ronald McDonald Houses of Alabama and national operator Black McDonald’s Association.
Now Larry’s grandson and Dale’s son, Larry ‘Tre’ Thornton, III who is about to enter university himself, is on the same path and although he has different dreams outside of McDonald’s, he is also learning the trade and the importance of the path taken by his father and his grandfather.
“I especially want to see how my dad came to be and all the things my grandfather does, it just gives me a role model for the next generation and what I want to do for my kids,” Tre said. BLACK CORPORATE.
“There’s an image around black dads that they’re not there and if they’re there, maybe the advice they passed on wasn’t helpful, but the information that was passed on to me was the best I could have ever had.”