By Karen Butterfield

Missourian Staff Writer

Mike Klak, co-owner of the Washington McDonald’s restaurant, recently was honored for his 55 years of service with McDonald’s Corporation.

Klak and his wife Deb own and operate four restaurants in Franklin County, including Washington, Pacific, St. Clair and Union, as well as four in St. Louis County — Allenton, Eureka, Peerless Park and Bowles Avenue, Fenton.

Mike Klak first started working as a crew member for a McDonald’s licensee in his hometown of Rock Island, Ill., in 1958, at the age of 15.

“I never imagined at the time that I started (that I would work for McDonald’s for 55 years),” Klak said. “As long as I was having fun and making a living, everything seemed to work out fine.”

As he continued with his education after high school, Klak said he wanted to be an engineer. But he found that he was making more money and having more fun at McDonald’s.

Over the years, though, he has used a lot of the engineering skills he gained at school while building stores and perfecting equipment.

In about 1967, Klak was promoted to supervisor in the “quad cities,” of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Moline/East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois. He was responsible for the operation of 15 McDonald’s locations in the Chicago and the Quad Cities area.

In 1968, the McDonald’s Corporation acquired those 15 stores and Klak began working for the corporation.

Klak later moved to St. Louis and took over all the franchise stores in Missouri Tennessee, Kansas, Kentucky and Nebraska — a total of 400 stores.

From 1970-77, Klak oversaw the building of 25 restaurants per year as the director of sales service.

While working for the corporation, Klak was offered the opportunity to purchase his own store in 1977.

“We decided that enough travel was enough travel,” he said. “We decided to settle down and raise children.”

The Klaks chose Washington as their home and opened the Washington restaurant in 1977. That restaurant was rebuilt, featuring the latest design, last year.

Klak said he’s most proud of moving to Washington, raising a family and continuing on the path of owning and operating McDonald’s restaurants.

The Klaks have two grown children, Joseph Klak and Michelle Avery.

Mike Klak will receive an award from McDonald’s corporate office this month.