Immigrant Korean War vet turned McDonald’s owner paid 90 employees for 3 months during closure: ‘I’ve been in their shoes’

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McDonald’s franchise owner Tony Philou needed to close one of his restaurants because it was in need of renovations. However, the reconstruction would shut down the fast-food restaurant for about three months. That would mean that employees of the McDonald’s location would be out of work. However, Philou stepped up big time to make sure his employees were taken care of.

Philou, 90, immigrated to the United States from Greece as a child.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army, and served as an infantryman during the Korean War.

After the war, he worked full-time at the TRW Valve Division plant — an automotive and aerospace parts manufacturer in Cleveland. In 1962, Philou took a part-time job as a fry cook and slicing cheese at a McDonald’s in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. He was paid 90 cents per hour.

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“I started from the ground level up,” Philiou told TODAY.

In 1977, Philou took ownership of the Mayfield Heights location. Philou went on to own and operate several McDonald’s franchise locations.

The Mayfield Heights restaurant needed renovations in March, but it would close the location for roughly three months.

“We needed to get it up to par, both facility- and equipment-wise, and also [make it] a better place for the employees to be working,” Philiou told Fox Business.

He was faced with laying off dozens of his employees while the construction took place. Instead, he paid all 90 of his employees throughout the entire closure.

“It was not a hard decision for me,” Philiou said. “I’ve been in their shoes. I knew what it would be if they didn’t have a check on a weekly basis.”

Philou told his employees, “You’re going to sit home, you’re going to get paid. I’m hoping that you come back with me when I open up the store to run a beautiful store in this lovely community of Mayfield Heights.”

Ed Kocsis – the general manager of the restaurant – told the Washington Post, “Employees were floored, and they were extremely appreciative.”

Philou stated, “Our employees are extremely grateful. As for the community here, which I’m blessed to be working with, they’ve been very supportive of us.”

“I’m blessed to be able to do this,” he said. “And I did it because what [my employees] have done in the past have made the store a success.”

Philou didn’t disclose how much the generous act cost him, but he joked that the restaurant would “need to sell a lot of cheeseburgers to make it up.”

The Mayfield Heights McDonald’s reopened on July 6 with a large crowd and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Philiou said, “I encourage my employees to stay with me. As I grow, they will grow.”

Mayfield Heights McDonald’s owner pays employees during renovation

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