State Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, rolled up his sleeves and got a behind-the-scenes look at a local fast-food restaurant franchise.
Fortunato visited the Enumclaw McDonald’s for a tour by franchisee Alex Medeiros and learned how to prepare one of his favorite burgers, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
“I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream,” Fortunato said. “I always wanted to work at a McDonald’s since the burgers were 19 cents. There is a lot of denigrating a ‘burger flipping’ job, but to be a young person entering the workforce, these jobs are essential to providing the training and skills to advance in life.”
Medeiros, who now owns seven locations in the area, has been with McDonald’s for nearly 40 years, starting out behind the counter at age 16. He now employs 350 people – 75 at the Enumclaw location alone. Fortunato and Medeiros discussed the challenges of operating in Washington, including regulatory compliance and environmental issues, while Fortunato spoke with employees about their experiences in the industry.
“I think it is important to support an industry that often provides this first step to establishing an employment history,” Fortunato said. “I learned a lot from employees there and about the opportunities that are possible with a little hard work and commitment. One young man told me how valuable the job was to learn skills that he knows would help him in the future.
“I’m also interested in the effect recent waves of taxes and regulations are having on this industry,” Fortunato added. “These businesses do a lot for a community; they make big investments in equipment and work with local vendors. Things like the double taxing of pop, first, as syrup, then the finished pop, can be a problem. On the tour, I learned that in Seattle they are triple taxed! One barrel of syrups incurs $1,100 in taxes alone.”
Fortunato noted the attention to detail given to products before the get to the consumer. “They had to reposition the cheese and pickles on the burger I made – it wasn’t up to standards,” Fortunato said. “After that experience, I had better stick to legislating.”