Petition to save licensee fails to sway Macca’s
A 2000km round trip to Sydney to deliver a petition and calls from the community for a protest rally and restaurant boycotts are not enough to save a North Brisbane McDonald's licensee.
The licence for the Bracken Ridge fast food restaurant will be renewed on June 30 and McDonald's Australia has confirmed it will not be renewing with Rod Chiapello, who has held it for the past 20 years.
The news will disappoint many in the local community, who have thrown their support behind Mr Chiapello because of his generosity to community groups, sport clubs, schools and individuals over many years.
A McDonald's Australia spokesperson said, "Rod has been aware his licence would not be renewed since 2017."
"He has retained the option to sell his restaurant throughout the period, to ensure the continuation and smooth transition of the restaurant to a new operator.
"Rod has the ability to negotiate that all current staff will continue to be employed by the new operator as a condition of sale.
"McDonald's has engaged openly and transparently with Rod, and he is aware of why the decision not to renew his licence has been made."
McDonald's Australia did not give details of that decision but, on June 7, Mr Chiapello stated on the restaurant's Facebook page that his "extremely poor owner operator review history" was given as a "significant reason".
"We would defy anyone that we know or who has ever worked closely with us, over 30 years, to share this jaundiced view," he wrote.
"Our business operates with integrity and with genuine care for the wellbeing of all others."
In a later post he wrote that McDonald's had no compelling reason not to rewrite.
"In fact if McDonald's truly acknowledged the many many from the heart glowing comments made by our long-term customers and community, they would rewrite us without hesitation or reservation and in appreciation for a job that has been truly a cut above the rest.
"Our workplace health and safety record is second to none and applauded by WorkCover Queensland.
"We are both an economic and a social enterprise which is certainly different from most other McDonald's restaurants."
On May 14 Mr Chiapello ended months of speculation by posting on the store's Facebook page that he had "no intention of leaving the brand nor the team at Macca's Bracken Ridge", while noting there were a few within the company who have "an alternative view".
Bracken Ridge crew member Jon Twartz, 46, started a change.org petition to 'save Rod and his amazing team', which received more than 15,000 signatures and almost 4000 comments.
On Sunday, Mr Twartz drove 10 hours to Sydney so he could deliver the petition to McDonald's Australia the following morning.
"I rang on Friday to ask if someone would be there and I was told there would be," Mr Twartz said.
"When I rocked up there on Monday (June 15) the doors were locked."
Mr Twartz said he was told to take his package to the dispatch area at the back of the building, where an employee reassured him it would be delivered.
"I've had no response yet," Mr Twartz said yesterday afternoon.
"It's annoying because they're not responding to our support for this man.
"The community is not going to take it lying down. He's supported us so much over the years and now it's time to support him."
The restaurant's Facebook page has been inundated with messages of support for Mr Chiapello - with some saying the Bracken Ridge restaurant is the only McDonald's they eat at, and others indicating they will boycott it under a different licensee.
Many say they have been contacting McDonald's Australia via email and phone, and others are calling for a protest rally to be held around June 30.
Mr Twartz said there had been some talk of a protest, but nothing had been organised.
"The staff are all in limbo, especially the older staff," he said.
"We're all walking on eggshells at the moment because we don't know what's happening."
The McDonald's Australia spokesperson said the business "will continue to operate and maintain its important role within the local community as both a major employer and provider of quality menu items".
The spokesperson also acknowledged Mr Chiapello's long involvement with McDonald's Australia.
"We want to thank him for his contributions to the business and to his community," the spokesperson said.
Mr Chiapello was been with McDonald's for about 33 years and previously held licences for restaurants at Toombul and Virginia.
The Bracken Ridge restaurant is a big supporter of Ronald McDonald House and has been the top McHappy Day fundraiser in Queensland for many years. Last year the store raised $16,639.77, the fourth highest amount in Australia, through its annual McHappy Day mini fete.
Mr Chiapello's contributions to the community were recognised in 2015 when he was named the Lord Mayor's Citizen of the Year for his "ongoing and selfless support to many different areas of the Brisbane community over many years".
Originally published as Petition to save licensee fails to sway Macca's