If you have been lucky enough to live in the area since the early 70’s, you know that McDonald’s at 121 North York Road has been a staple in the Hatboro community for a long time. But for the “newcomers”, it might surprise you to know that this Hatboro institution has been serving their globally famous golden fries, signature hamburgers, and other treats for almost 50 years.
Since 1973, the hometown Hatboro McDonald’s has been serving customers in good times and bad. They have helped customers celebrate gold medals and mourn losses. They are part of many folks’ morning routines and afternoon pick-me-ups, always there to serve up favorites with a smile. But there’s more to this McDonald’s story than just the food they are serving.
In 1971, Chris Gabriel moved to the Philadelphia area from Illinois where he had been a McDonald’s Owner Operator for seven years. In 1973 he became the Owner Operator of McDonald’s Hatboro (restaurant #752 of now 14,000 in America) and has been an enthusiastic and supportive community partner ever since.
Well known for his community involvement, saying, “it’s all about giving back to the community in which you do business,” Chris willingly supports scout troops, little league, police and fire departments, schools, libraries, the Chamber of Commerce, and other business organizations and neighbors. As an example, Chris has been part of the Hatboro community for 46 years and for every one of those years he has been an active participant in the Hatboro parade, even serving as Grand Marshall in last year’s parade.
Whether it’s bringing Ronald McDonald to town to appear at community special events (it’s harder than you may think to secure Ronald during his national tour), or working to secure grants from the Ronald McDonald House Charities to help fund projects like the Tanner Park Playground, or having a big presence at the “When I Grow Up” Career Expo, Chris and his team remain dedicated to embracing and supporting efforts and organizations that are doing good in and around Hatboro.
In addition to serving customers a consistent, quality product and giving back generously to the community, Chris is also extremely proud of the opportunities he has been able to provide to his employees over the years.
“McDonald’s is a people business,” says Chris. “And I am proud of the employees at the Hatboro McDonald’s. Many of the crew members who had their first job at McDonald’s learned important skills that have enabled them to continue on a successful career path, others have moved up the corporate ladder and continue to pursue the American dream of becoming a McDonald’s Owner Operator. Nothing compares to seeing employees succeed through their hard work and dedication, knowing that one of our restaurants provided them with the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”
A fun fact is that one in eight Americans has, at some time, worked at McDonald’s. Many are first jobs or second jobs. Some are moms, dads, and grandparents. Some are even famous like Jay Leno, Carl Lewis, Shania Twain, and Jeff Bezos.
As you can imagine, the restaurant you see at 121 N. York today looks quite a bit different than the original building (seen below during the demolition) which Chris acquired in 1973 (which was a renovated building from the original Red & White tile drive-up). Since then, the restaurant has gone through several physical modernizations. In 1996 the restaurant was taken down for an entire rebuild, and in 2011 the dining room went through a complete renovation, at which time the indoor playland was removed and the front part of the restaurant was transformed into an upscale modern dining area. The next project on deck for the location is another dining room renovation that will include new ordering Kiosk’s. This is slated to take place later this year.
So now you know the story behind the golden arches that have graced York Road for so long. Hatboro is lucky to have one of the 14,000 McDonald’s, and the residents of Hatboro are lucky that this location (like 95% of the 14,000) is owned by an individual franchisee who has made a commitment to his community both inside the restaurant and in his neighborhood. Kathy Kingston VP & Director of Operations is known by many as the face and heart of the Hatboro location. She, often on behalf of Chris, consistently serves the needs of community. The next time you are at the restaurant, ask if Kathy is around. If she is, be sure to say thank you for all she, Chris and McDonald’s do for Hatboro.