Ketchup runs through this young entrepreneur's veins

Diana McWilliams grew up locally in her family’s McDonald's operations. She now aspires to build her own franchise.

Article by Sally Crocker and Karoline Chapman

Photography by Provided by Diana McWilliams

Originally published in Southlake City Lifestyle

Young entrepreneur Diana McWilliams likes to say she has ketchup running through her veins. The roots of McDonald’s franchise operations run deep within her family, and some of her fondest memories hail back to enjoying that first hamburger as a kid, hanging out with Ronald, and seeing so many children enjoy their birthday parties in the fun style that only McDonald’s can provide.

Her grandparents made history in 1978 as one of the first Hispanic McDonald’s owner-operators in California, and everyone in her family has since supported the brand in a major way.

Diana’s parents followed in the family business, opening their first franchise, CKMC Enterprises, in 1994 in Fort Worth. Today, they operate four McDonald's located in the DFW Airport and in Fort Worth, with Diana, her brother and her boyfriend all helping out.

Diana, too, has aspirations to open her own franchise. It’s a dream she’s had since she was younger. She loved watching her parents work hard and make a difference. Her goal is to open a McDonald’s in her community.

It was always important to her grandfather to be involved in his community, and Diana feels the same way. At just 25 years old, she is already the youngest new Board member for the Southlake Chamber of Commerce and serves as Co-Chair of the Southlake Chamber’s Young Professionals networking group, which is dedicated to developing and empowering purpose-driven young business leaders.

“Being a part of the Southlake community has been such a beautiful blessing,” she says. “The guidance, support and mentorship I’ve received has made it easy to serve my community.”

By attending different Chamber events, Diana experienced how welcoming and unique the Southlake community is, and how all the local restaurants work hard to support each other, as well as other businesses in the area. Delta Hotels by Marriott Dallas Southlake has been a great supporter of Diana’s efforts, helping to introduce her around town. Diana also credits the hotel’s Executive Chef José Soto, a fellow foodie, for inspiring her to be the best version of herself.

“Without this support I wouldn't be who I am today,” she says.

Community has always been such a part of her life. She grew up seeing her parents host school nights, sponsor high school games, support their local Ronald McDonald House and more. She was always known as the "McDonald’s Girl," a nickname she embraced because of her pride in her parents and all they did for the community.

“They’ve always told me that I can do anything I put my mind to, and I live by that every day. I live the ‘golden’ way,” she enthusiastically explains, relating back to those recognizable McDonald’s golden arches.

“I want to carry on the family legacy as a third-generation Hispanic McDonald’s owner-operator in my own community, scooping out hot golden-brown fries, serving up fresh burgers and offering ice cream to customers on warm summer days, for after-school snacks or for date night desserts,” she adds.

It’s not easy to acquire your own McDonald’s franchise – a comprehensive understanding of the business is needed – which is why Diana is immersing herself in every facet of operations and employee relations, the keys to running a successful restaurant. Her aim is to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to providing an exceptional experience for employees and customers alike.

“My philosophy is, don’t be afraid to be your best self. You have to take calculated risks to achieve personal growth and to step out of your comfort zone as you build your business and make yourself known. Surrounding yourself with individuals who possess greater knowledge and expertise than you have not only fosters personal development but also paves the way for new opportunities and insights,” she says.

By following this approach, Diana believes she can continue to evolve both personally and professionally.

She has always been an entrepreneur at heart. At age 15, she established her own photography business, and at age 17 she started a T-shirt company called 24/7 Cajj, a short name for “casual.”  She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, with a major in business management and a minor in marketing. 

As a young entrepreneur and new member of the Chamber Board, she’s filled with excitement and eagerness to learn from her experienced peers. She recognizes that her journey has just begun and is committed to absorbing knowledge and experiences that will shape her future endeavors for years to come.

Diana McWilliams' journey is a true testament to the power of community involvement and the pursuit of one's dreams. As she takes her place on the Southlake Chamber Board and pursues her McDonald’s local franchise goal, she is poised to make a lasting impact both within the community and professionally.

With such passion and drive at such a young age, Diana's future seems undoubtedly bright.

“I love the feeling of starting from an idea and working hard to take that idea into real life.”

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