TRAVERSE CITY — The five Traverse City-area McDonald’s restaurants have a new owner.
Wally Gonzalez, owner of Laura Food Company, purchased the franchises Dec. 1. The previous owner, Rick Steckley, who established Traverse City-based Marks Management Company, died of cancer Feb. 22.
Gonzalez relocated from Kansas City, Mo., where he and his wife, Carmen, owned two McDonald’s since 2002. The couple previously owned three McDonald’s in Puerto Rico.
They sold the Missouri restaurants and moved to Michigan in November. Gonzalez would not disclose the dollar figure of the local purchase, which included a sixth McDonald’s in Gaylord.
All of the restaurants’ 280 employees were retained during the ownership change, and Gonzalez said the only difference customers will see is a new face behind the counter.
“Going from two to six (restaurants), it’s been an experience for us,” Gonzalez said. “But we see it as a great opportunity in a great area. We just fell in love with Traverse City.”