This Black family owns all the McDonald’s in Compton City

BY Preta Peace Namasaba May 14, 2024 12:50 PM EDT
This Black family owns all the McDonald's in Compton City. Photo credit: Los Angeles Sentinel

Over three decades ago, Patricia Williams began working with the McDonald’s franchise to build a legacy for her children. She never assumed that they would want to work for or even take over the business but carved a path ahead for them. Her daughters, Nicole Enearu and Kerri Harper-Howie have followed in her trailblazing footsteps and operate 21 McDonald’s restaurants in South Los Angeles. With revenues of around $50 million, the family is the sole owner of all McDonald’s in Compton City.

“It was a pretty intense, three-year program and I had two young daughters. But like most things in life, it was the right time and the right place. The opportunity presented itself, so I jumped right on in, and I haven’t regretted one moment,” Williams said about her beginnings in the McDonald’s franchise training program.

Williams was inspired to make the leap into restaurant franchising by other family members who owned a few McDonald’s locations. She left her career as a Rehabilitation Therapist and set out to become her own boss. Alongside her husband, an LAPD officer at the time, they cashed out their 401k’s, took out a small business loan, and purchased their first McDonald’s location in Compton. Their first location benefited from the rapidly growing McDonald’s brand and was quite successful. The couple consequently purchased a second store.

A few years later, the two divorced and Williams chose to continue on her own. She purchased her husband’s share in the business and worked hard to grow the revenue at both locations. Although she faced challenges as a lone female entrepreneur, Williams was able to convince the corporation and the banks that she was the right person to take over the restaurants. In 1995, she sold her two stores and bought five more franchise locations. Her strategy for business growth was straightforward, acquire existing locations and build new ones.

Along the way, Williams’ daughters went to college and pursued their dreams. Enearu earned a bachelor’s and master’s in psychology and practiced for 10 years. Harper-Howie, on the other hand, earned a bachelor’s, obtained a law degree, and worked in employment law for 12 years. They decided to enter into the family business at different times for varying reasons.

“McDonald’s has a program where, whether you come from the outside or if you’re a child of a current operator, they want to make sure that you are able to run the operations of the restaurant. So, I started my first day on fries and worked my way through the whole program. I then went to Hamburger University, which is what our general managers go through, and from there was the evaluation period to make sure that I understood the basics of running a restaurant, the business acumen, the financial responsibilities, and beyond,” Enearu explained how she got into the family business.

Feeling burnt out in her career and seeking to be her own boss, Enearu joined the business in 2003. It was something she had always wanted and her mother’s success inspired her decision. In 2012, Harper-Howie had a child whom she wanted to leave a business legacy just like her mother did. She transitioned into the business by providing legal counsel and handling various aspects of the human resources matters for her mother’s franchise locations. Both Enearu and Harper-Howie participated in the McDonald’s franchise training program to own their own stores.

Williams retired in 2019 and left her daughters in charge of the business. Enearu and Harper-Howie currently operate 21 McDonald’s restaurants in South Los Angeles County and employ 1,100 employees. The business generates over $50 million in revenues annually and works to uplift the community by making its stores family-friendly and accessible. They also offer scholarships to local students and fund various local and national charities through their non-profit, the Williams/Enearu Organization.