Wherever we are, wherever we go around the world, when we see a McDonald’s restaurant, it feels like all’s well with the world. That must be how people felt when McDonald’s landed in the CNMI 25 years ago on March 18, 1993.
According to Joe Ayuyu Jr., general manager of McDonald’s Middle Road, his father, Jose C. Ayuyu, really did make many people’s dreams come true when he decided to bring the fastfood chain to Saipan 25 years ago.
“He said that, over the years, Guam was the only place in Micronesia that had a McDonald’s. My father would see that every time our people travel to Guam, they would bring back food from McDonald’s to Saipan,” he said. “My father thought it would be nice for Saipan to have its own McDonald’s. That was the start of his vision to bring McDonald’s into the CNMI and it became a reality 25 years ago.”
With food that is accessible, affordable, and taste that is globally appreciated, McDonald’s is already a household name. It is one of the largest restaurant chains in the world, serving over millions of customers every day.
To sustain that reputation on a small island such as Saipan, Ayuyu Jr. said the formula to their success is simple. “The most important thing is that we are providing a service that is needed in the community and part of that service is taking care of our customers,” he said.
He pointed out that McDonald’s is, above all, about families and taking care of its customers. That means “treating them right, making quality food for them, having fast service, providing reasonable prices, and providing an environment where they can come and spend time with their families.”
Ayuyu Jr. said the journey to get to where McDonald’s Saipan is now has been very interesting.
“Like any other business, we have our ups and downs. However, we are very proud to say that, as we celebrate 25 years, our company has remained strong and we are a source of employment.”
“During the hard times, when the CNMI economy was suffering, we are very proud that we did not lay off any employees, cut hours, or close the business. We remained strong and the reason behind it was we have a strong community support that we earned by being one with and doing things with the community,” he added.
According to Ayuyu Jr., McDonald’s will continue evolving, keeping things dynamic and responsive to the changing times.
“Right now, we are undergoing a lot of changes in the company and those changes are included in our Vision 2020. We want to modernize the look of the restaurant from the outside and inside in terms of new décor,” he said.
“New technologies will be introduced and coming very soon on island are kiosks and digital menu boards. We have more plans in the pipeline and people can expect a lot of exciting things coming to the restaurants. Rather than waiting for another 25 years, we’re bringing these changes in the next three years,” he added.
Aside from running a food business, McDonald’s is also pro-environment, supports sports teams, sponsors with donations, and last November, provided a venue for the first Coffee with a Cop held at McDonald’s Middle Road. CNMI Department of Public Safety officers were given a venue and a chance to interact with the community.
“We are believers that our success is dependent on the success of the community. It makes a lot of sense to work with the community that makes us successful… we want to be known as a fun place where families can go to and enjoy eating together. We want to be the customer’s favorite place,” Ayuyu Jr. said.
“We are always evolving and we are finding ways not only to provide enjoyment for families but also to protect the environment. Our focus is in our operations and whenever opportunities come up to improve and initiate things for the preservation of the environment, we do it,” Ayuyu Jr. added.
To give thanks to the community, McDonald’s has a customer appreciation raffle for those who buy any Extra Value Meal. The grand draw on Saturday, March 17, will be held at McDonald’s Middle Road at 3pm.
“We are giving away 25 prizes with a grand prize of a roundtrip ticket to Manila, second prize is a Samsung Galaxy 8 Plus with free six-month plan, third prize is a 55” flatscreen colored television and fourth prize is a roundtrip ticket to Guam for one,” Ayuyu Jr. said. “We are also having an employee appreciation raffle and an appreciation dinner for our vendors. It is our way of thanking them for being our business partners for 25 years.”
McDonald’s on Saipan stands ready to face the years to come.
“McDonald’s is very happy to continue serving the community as our roots are here and we’re not going anywhere. Whether the economy is in good or bad shape, we are here to serve our community,” Ayuyu Jr. said.
“The most important lesson I can share is the restaurant being always ready to serve the community, especially in time of disasters. McDonald’s is one of the companies that provided food right after Typhoon Soudelor. We will always be at the forefront because our commitment is more than just food service but also community service,” Ayuyu Jr. added.