Elaine Leard was a sophomore at San Diego State University when she began working at her local McDonald’s. Her part-time job as a crew person would allow her to make some extra money to help pay for books and school supplies.
On her first day, she was surprised to see a familiar face in the restaurant. It was Bill Diekmann, a former high school classmate, who introduced himself as the assistant manager. Like Elaine, he was also working his way through school.
Spending several hours a day together allowed them to become close friends and confidantes. They soon realized that their mutual respect for one another had grown into something much deeper.
After dating through college, Elaine and Bill got married and continued working their way up the ranks at the Golden Arches.
In 1992 the Diekmanns moved their family to New York to open their very own McDonald’s in the Bronx. For Elaine and Bill, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
“We were so excited to become owner/operators,” recalled Bill, who began his career with McDonald’s at the age of 17. “It was our dream, and the dream happened. Even after all these years, it still feels like a dream to have been able to do what we love.”
Nearly four decades later, the Diekmanns look back fondly at the pivotal role that McDonald’s played in both their personal and professional lives. Today, they own and operate a Golden Arches in the heart of midtown Manhattan; serving over 2,200 customers a day.
“McDonald’s is really our world,” said Elaine. “It’s what brought us to where we are. It allowed us to raise our daughter and allowed her to go to college. We have so much to be grateful for.”