After more than 35 years with McDonald’s, Ron Wright is saying goodbye to the Golden Arches.
Wright’s last day with McDonald’s is expected to be Tuesday.
The 67-year-old Yukon man has owned two McDonald’s restaurants in Yukon for the past 17 years. Before that, he owned a franchise in Oklahoma City.
Wright is selling his restaurants to the Santiago-Brennan family, which also owns a number of McDonald’s in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including the restaurant on Mustang Road off of Interstate 40.
Wright, who began his career working at a family-owned McDonald’s in Woodward, said making the decision to step away from the operation was difficult.
“It’s time. I want to retire and enjoy the rest of my life,” he said.
Wright said he and his wife plan to travel and be on permanent vacation.
Wright, who lives in Yukon, purchased the restaurants on Main Street and on Garth Brooks Boulevard on Sept. 30, 1999. Before that, he had the franchise for a restaurant in Oklahoma City.
But it was in Woodward where he got his start.
Wright said his father-in-law owned that restaurant and offered him a career opportunity that he never regretted.
At the time, he was a 30-year-old Oklahoma City firefighter.
Wright said he did everything at the Woodward operation, including flipping burgers, frying fries and working the registers.
He also learned how to scrimp and save so that he could buy his own franchise.
He bought the Oklahoma City restaurant in 1991, but where he really wanted to be was in Yukon.
When the opportunity came, he convinced McDonald’s that he could handle the double operation. He sold the Oklahoma City store to buy the two stores in Yukon.
The Garth Brooks location is small, but stays busy with regulars and Interstate traffic.
The Main Street operation is larger and is constantly busy.
“This was a very difficult decision. It’s not difficult to quit, but it is difficult because of those people,” he said, pointing to his employees.
Wright said some of the workers have been with the restaurants since he bought them. The managers have more than 134 years of combined experience, he said.
There are 110 employees between the two locations.
Wright said the restaurants have “regulars,” who come in for breakfast or a cup of coffee. Some of the regulars are from as far away as Minnesota. They stop on their way to warmer weather during the winter or on their way back home.
Those regulars are among the things he will miss.
He also said he plans to remain in Yukon.
“It’s a great town,” Wright said, adding that he’s enjoyed being a part of it.
The restaurants have always strived to be involved in community events. He said that involvement is part of being in the community.
“We take a lot of pride in being part of the community, and have always tried to support all of the nonprofits we can,” Wright said.
Over the years, thousands of employees have worked at Wright’s restaurants. He said being able to give a 16-year-old his first job is exciting it’s an opportunity to teach work ethics, dedication and responsibility through his restaurants.
“Many of the kids appreciate the experience,” he said.
That includes his children, Jarrid and Rhonda.
Jarrid Wright is currently a supervisor at both restaurants. He will be moving to a new career with Metro Signs as his father retires.
Daughter Rhonda Smith is a manager at the Main Street restaurant. Wright said her future is undecided.
“Change is good. … I like change. It is different. The biggest challenge is making it mesh,” he said.