After Working At His Dad's McDonald's For $2/Hr, Dale Thornton Later Became The Chain's Youngest Franchisee In 2006
Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan

After Working At His Dad's McDonald's For $2/Hr, Dale Thornton Later Became The Chain's Youngest Franchisee In 2006

Dale Thornton followed in the footsteps of his father. Now, both he and his father own franchise locations of one of the most popular fast-food chains.

His Father First Made History In 1992

The story of the Thornton family dates back to 1992 when his father, Larry Thornton Sr., made history after becoming the first African American to become a McDonald’s franchisee in Birmingham, alasu.edu reports.

What’s more, Larry’s steps following the feat proved there was a far greater purpose behind the milestone.

Dale started to learn the ropes of business at age 10: At his first store, Larry made sure to keep his son involved in the fast-food restaurant, starting at the age of 10.

Dale was hired as the Playground Manager and was compensated $2 an hour.

“So, my son, [now 40], was 10 years old when I built the first store,” Larry said, according to Birmingham Times. “I made him the ‘playground manager’ at the time. His job was keeping the balls in the ball pit, … but what he was doing was relating, building his interest in the business. I have three kids, two daughters and one son, all of whom all have learned the business.”

Dale jumpstarts his entrepreneurial journey: Dale’s interests began pointing toward the same pathway as his father. In fact, he would later attend Miles College to study business and later graduated in 2004. Dale then attended McDonald’s Restaurants Hamburger University, twice, to prepare him for becoming a franchisee.

Thornton Family Continues To Make History

By 2006, Dale found himself celebrating a shared milestone with his father when he purchased a McDonald’s restaurant. The Thorntons made history once again since the purchase made Dale the youngest McDonald’s franchisee at the age of 25, as AfroTech previously mentioned.

Now, the father-son duo boasts seven McDonald’s locations under their belt in the Birmingham area.

“These two stories, [about my son and I owning franchises], are great American stories,” Larry said, according to Birmingham Times. “Much more significantly, they’re great African American stories. … How many of us can look and say at 25 years old, ‘I don’t manage a store, I don’t supervise a store, but I own a $2.2 million facility.”

Motivation: At the center of the Thorntons success remains their community driven spirit.

“What McDonald’s is for us, my son and I … we have never underestimated the ministerial aspects of what we do daily. We touch lives, we change lives, we know the jobs that we’ve created in the community,” Larry said, according to alasu.edu. “We hope to partner with my son’s alma mater and the surrounding community for any appropriate opportunities for giving back. That’s what we live for. I can’t think of any better opportunity to affect and change lives.”

As AfroTech also reported, Dale recently donated $500,000 to his alma mater as well. It was the largest-ever donation to the historically Black college from an alum.  Larry also did the same back in 2011, donating $1 million to Alabama State.

Check out the full story here.