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Enjoying life's 'wild ride'

Jane Cleveland is the owner/operator of three McDonald’s locations in western Newfoundland.
Jane Cleveland is the owner/operator of three McDonald’s locations in western Newfoundland. - Diane Crocker

McDonald's and hard work are in the family for Jane Cleveland

CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

As a mom to three young boys and a business owner, life can be a “wild ride” for Jane Cleveland.

But for Cleveland, owner/operator of three McDonald’s restaurants on the west coast of Newfoundland, it’s second nature.

“I don’t really know much different.”

Not only did she grow up in a business family, her dad Barry MacKinnon owned the restaurants before her, and her mom, Mary MacKinnon, often worked right alongside him, and one of her grandfathers was also a businessman.

“Business is in our blood.”

Cleveland’s dad opened the first McDonald’s franchise in the parking lot of the Corner Brook Plaza in 1980. In 2001 he opened a location at Walmart in Murphy Square and not long after one in Stephenville.

Growing up with the business, Cleveland said she always associated it with hard work. She said her dad put in a lot of long hours and was gone a lot.

“He was very hands-on and he ran the store the way he wanted to do it at the time.”

Jane Cleveland purchased the McDonald’s on the Corner Brook Plaza parking lot in 2019. - Diane Crocker
Jane Cleveland purchased the McDonald’s on the Corner Brook Plaza parking lot in 2019. - Diane Crocker

Cleveland had wanted to be a business person, but didn’t originally plan to take over the restaurants. She studied tourism and hospitality management at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax and went to work for a hotel in the Nova Scotia city after graduation.

“I thought that was the avenue that I wanted to take, maybe potentially owning a hotel franchise.”

After a slow, boring winter, she knew that wasn’t for her and came to the realization that maybe McDonald’s was where she was meant to be.

“My mind always works in a McDonald’s kind of world.” Something that was evident during her time at university.

“I would do all my projects and base it on that kind of theory of McDonald’s.”

So, she called her dad to say she was interested in coming home and possibly buying the restaurant from him.

He wanted her to work for another operator first.

“Just to get a different perspective because I always worked for him.”

She spent a year working at a corporate location in Halifax and after that, told him it was definitely what she wanted to do.

She came home to Corner Brook in 2008 and started as a swing manager, worked her way up to assistant manager and then store manager and then started doing the courses required to become an operator.

“It’s the most important thing that we do is to give back. The community supports me on a day-to-day basis so it’s only in my best interest to support back.”

She bought the Stephenville location from her father in 2016 and the two Corner Brook locations in 2019.

Just like her mom helped out and supported her dad, Cleveland’s husband Jeremy is by her side, helping with the business and making sure everybody in the family — including their sons Wes, eight, Rory, four and Darcy, two — are where they’re supposed to be.

As business people, Cleveland said it’s important for them to get involved in the communities they operate in.

“It’s the most important thing that we do is to give back. The community supports me on a day-to-day basis so it’s only in my best interest to support back.”

It can be challenging to help with all the requests and so they pick things that are near and dear to them — Ronald McDonald House, minor hockey, baseball, the food bank and a local school.

“So that we can actually have an impact.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic when Cleveland had to make changes to the way her restaurants operated, she continued to help the community with donations to the local food bank and the Islaview Foundation, providing a meal for Ronald McDonald House in St. John’s, meals for Willow House and families in need from the C.C. Loughlin school community and to employees at some local stores and the bank the business deals with.

Cleveland said all this would not be possible without her staff.

“I have the best people working for me and they work really hard and smart every day.”

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