Locally Owned Franchise Creates Community OpportunitiesSep 15, 2020 10:21PM ● By Alexis Mason
Anthony Bourdain once said, “If anything is good for pounding humility into you permanently, it’s the restaurant business.” The art of breaking bread, or partaking in a meal, is known to be an intimate act across all cultures in a way that transcends language. From small local restaurants to corporate franchises, there is one thing all of these establishments have in common; the amazing people who keep them running on a day to day basis to provide food for our community.
In 1975 the desire to own and operate their own McDonald’s Franchise brought Jim and Alice Neader to Statesville, North Carolina from West Virginia. Having previously dabbled in the restaurant business, serving in the Navy, and also working in the grocery business, Jim knew this was the next best step for the future of his family. His son, Mike Neader, shared, “When Dad applied for his first McDonald's - Statesville, NC franchise, they told him the opportunity was here in Statesville.” While the restaurant has seen rebuilds and remodels, their very first restaurant site still sits at 110 Signal Hill Drive.
Photo Courtesy Statesville Historical Collection - Statesville , NC
Once settled into their new home, and after the opening of their very first franchise, Jim put Mike to work. When Mike was 15 years old he began working for his father as a crew person flipping burgers. Over the course of 20 years, Mike worked his way up through the ranks of the family business learning each individual position. Mike spent so much time at work, that he even credits meeting his wife, Melissa, at one of their restaurants.
“I saw her mowing grass, and back then landscapers wore shirts with their business number really big printed on the back," Mike said. “I gave the company she worked for a call and hired her landscaping crew to cut the grass at all of our locations. We would talk in the parking lot of the Mooresville and Cornelius locations about motorcycles. That was in 1990 and we got married in 1991.”
The Beginning of Something Great
After getting married, Mike and Melissa decided to franchise a McDonald’s in Mooresville, North Carolina. Melissa explained, “Once I dedicated myself to getting involved with the family business I knew that I needed to learn how to do everything the way Mike did, and that's exactly what I did.” The pair ended up purchasing 4 of the Neader family restaurants from Jim before he retired in 1994 and grew the family business into a 10 location operation serving most of Iredell County.
When we asked Mike why he decided to invest in our community he shared, “Iredell is the best county in the state of North Carolina. God has been good to us here. Iredell County has been great to operate our business in and raise our family here.”
The original location, located on Signal Hill Drive, now belongs to Mike and Melissa. While the golden arches date back to 1975 when Jim and Alice originally opened the establishment, this single location has been built 3 separate times throughout the years, including the original build along with 2 remodels over its 45 years. The most recent remodel persevered through 2 hurricanes and a surprise snowstorm. While this location has been completely upgraded inside and out, and with a much larger parking lot, the idea that taking care of your employees makes for good business, has always remained the same.
“Our franchised locations have housed up to 600 employees at one point in time. We are thankful beyond measure for the wonderful employees that we have. Our workers are essential and we take pride in taking care of our employees," Melissa added. Mike included, “We are thankful for the crew and the staff. They are just the best. We would never ask them to do anything that we wouldn't do, or that we haven’t done.”
You don't have to spend time with the Neaders to see that they truly care about Iredell County and the people who make up our community. Mike and Melissa donate funds, resources, materials, and time to different organizations across the county. Mike explained, “If you’re in the restaurant business then you’re in the people business. We are extremely big on giving back to a community that has supported us. It’s all about supporting and embracing one another. The community supports us by eating at our restaurants, and we like to support our community.”
Serving Iredell County
Melissa is eager to have the opportunity to serve the citizens of Iredell County as a County Commissioner after the official results come in from the November 3rd election. She is very hands-on in her involvement with the community. She volunteers at many of the local schools throughout the county and works alongside several organizations.
When we asked the duo if they have thought about adding another McDonald’s location, Mike responded, “We have been fortunate with all of the opportunities that have presented themselves throughout the county. It’s possible we will add another location, but only if the opportunity presents itself.”
The Neader family moved to Iredell County with a dream to run a business. Jim and Alice accomplished what they set out to do. They built multiple strong locations, and they taught their children what it takes to run a successful business. Mike and Melissa took what they learned and expanded upon it, creating not only a great place to eat, but a resource for jobs and opportunities for our community.
Mike concluded, “There’s no business like the restaurant business.”