BLANCHESTER — It’s said that McDonald’s owner/operators develop “ketchup in their veins.”
For Leigh Jones, that process started at birth.
“My parents really gave me the foundation for how to be a good boss and a good neighbor to my community,” said Jones, 38, whose mom, dad and brother are all active McDonald’s franchisees. “It really helps when you take the leap of faith to bet on yourself and become a small business owner.”
On Tuesday night, the second-generation McDonald’s owner/operator, who got her start in entrepreneurship when she bought the Blanchester location more than a decade ago, will be honored as Blanchester’s Businesswoman of the Year at the local chamber’s 62nd Annual Meeting.
Jones owns and operates three of her family’s 12 Cincinnati-area McDonald’s restaurants, and she counts people and community leadership as her greatest responsibility.
“My family and I believe in a philosophy of ‘lifting as you climb,’” Jones explained. “You don’t build a business; you build people and then people build the business.”
Jones has hired and developed hundreds of local Blanchester residents and provided access to job and life skills, educational opportunities through McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program, and chances to advance and build a career under the Golden Arches, In fact, every member of the restaurant’s management team started as crew, including the restaurant general manager.
It’s that continuity and dedication that has led the Blanchester restaurant to rank in the top 1 percent of McDonald’s restaurants in the Cincinnati area for overall performance.
Beyond developing leaders and running a successful business, Jones has invested deeply in the Blanchester community. Through her service on the chamber board, she’s helped improve the July 4th and Fall Festival events, the chamber dinner and business symposium, and provided meals for Breakfast with Santa.
She is deeply involved in Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House Charities, local schools and sports, the local library, food pantry, churches and the Senior Center.
Jones says she invests in the people and institutions of Blanchester because the people of Blanchester invested in her when she first became a businesswoman.
“I can never forget how our neighbors in Blanchester embraced my family and me from the time we bought the restaurant in 2006,” Jones said. “The people in this community are so special. The least we can do for them is to give them the experience and quality food that they deserve, and to be a good neighbor and support causes that make an impact.”
It’s a passion for community, partnership, and family that Jones and her husband, Jonathan, work to instill in their two children, Cameron and Lilliana. That, and the importance of always working to be better today than you were yesterday.
“We’re always raising the bar on everything we do, inside and outside the restaurants,” Jones said. “And for our kids, our customers, and our people, we can’t wait to show everyone what’s next.”