In 1973, Eddie McMillen returned home to Charleston, South Carolina after spending six years in the Marine Corps. He began working as an Assistant Manager at the local McDonald's. Not only did he fall in love with the business, he also fell in love with the cashier girl, Karen.
“Our store crew would always hang out, we were all like a family. I always admired her sort of from afar,” McMillen said.
Little did he know, in 1978, the two would get married. Both continued to learn the ropes at McDonald's and grew to love the idea of owning their own franchise. In 1985, the couple moved to Florida where they owned two McDonald's locations. After a few years, they sold the Florida locations and moved to Mississippi where they ran six McDonald's franchises. In that time, Karen gave birth to their daughter, Elicia. In 2009, the McMillens decided it was time to go back home and sold their Mississippi locations.
“We wanted to go back to where it all began and where we fell in love. We knew that customer demographic well and we knew we would find success,” McMillen said.
By 2014, the McMillens were running five McDonald's franchises across the greater Charleston area. During that time, Karen was diagnosed with epilepsy and began having regular seizures. Continuing to run five businesses, some that were open for 24 hours a day, became very strenuous. Last year, Eddie decided it was best that he sell all of their franchises and focus on Karen’s health.
“When I told my daughter we were selling all of our locations, she wasn’t happy. Her goal was always to graduate high school, go to college and take over the family business,” McMillen said. “So we began researching different franchises that might work well with our new normal,”
The McMillens wanted a franchise that had great product, do-able hours, loyal clients and room for growth. The family says when they found Famous Toastery, it was a no-brainer and the brand was a perfect fit. They visited a location and were blown away by the extremely pleasant and friendly atmosphere.
“Famous Toastery is the type of brand you just can’t go wrong with. My daughter is so excited to begin working with us and learning the do’s and don’ts of the franchise world. The store opens early and closes in the afternoon, which will make it possible for Karen to be hands on, too,” McMillen said.
McMillen says the franchise skills they learned through McDonald's will certainly translate well into Famous Toastery. McMillen notes that his road to success was built through passion, organization and kindness, but more than anything else, it was building his franchise up with a great staff.
“The biggest thing to focus on are the people you hire. You have to have good people working for you,” McMillen said.
The McMillens will open their first Famous Toastery in Charleston in December of this year, with plans to add an additional four in the area.