When most people are asked to describe their mothers, business partner is not the first thing that comes to mind. But for Jessica Quintana and Brian Hairston, who both own McDonald’s restaurants in New Jersey, their moms are exactly that – business partners.
Mother-daughter duo Celest and Jessica Quintana and mother-son duo Linda Dunham and Brian Hairston are among a handful of McDonald’s franchisees in the New York Tri-State region who operate their restaurants as a family business.
When Celest opened her first restaurant in North Bergen, New Jersey in 1992, Jessica was 14 years old and was put to work right away. Just like any other employee, she started as a crew person and worked her way through the ranks during high school and college.
After graduating from college, Celest encouraged Jessica to pursue other opportunities, which she did, but Jessica ultimately decided to come back home and follow in her mom’s footsteps. The Quintanas now operate 12 McDonald’s restaurants in Essex and Union Counties.
“Growing up and watching my mother work so hard to keep the restaurants running smoothly really showed me that McDonald’s is just like any other business and we all needed to work together to make it successful,” said Jessica. “I’m extremely proud to be able to work alongside my mother to continue and grow our organization.”
“We have so much respect for each other as partners and it’s the best thing about working together, that we do it as a family,” said Celest. “We also have a rule to never talk about work at home.” Jessica is now also a mother and hopes to instill the same sense of independence and perseverance to her 9 year old daughter that Celest has taught her over the years.
For Brian, McDonald’s has been in his life for as long as he can remember. His stepfather, Robert Lee Dunham, opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in Harlem and all of New York City in 1973. After Linda married Lee, she left her previous job in banking and slowly learned the ins and outs of the business. Brian did his part by helping out when he could and unsurprisingly, his first job was a crew member at a family owned McDonald’s. While Brian always enjoyed being around the restaurants, he never thought he would work alongside his mother one day. Now they now own and operate 6 stores across Bergen County.
“Brian made the decision to stay close to the family and help with the business, which I really appreciate,” said Linda. “There’s no other person I trust more and I know I can always rely on him, whether it’s on the business side or personal side.”
It is not always smooth sailing though to work in close proximity with someone you love. Both pairs of franchisees acknowledge that arguments do happen from time to time but have made the decision to not let disagreements get in between their relationships.
“At the end of the day, I know my mother has my best interest at heart which is not always the case with other employers,” said Brian. “Working together has been a blessing and I’m thankful to McDonald’s for making it possible.”