Jun. 5, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
Claire Andrew, the general manager of the McDonald’s in Cambria Heights, was recently honored by the Nation’s Restaurant News, which recognized her as one of the top general managers in the restaurant industry in their 2023 Power List. This honor reflects the hard work and effort she’s put in since she started working for the company around six years ago.
The Power List recognizes general managers for their leadership and excellence in activating brand strategy at the store level, building and maintaining team culture, providing excellent customer service and driving strong unit economics. Andrew being honored reflects her commitment to being a mentor for her employees as well as fostering strong connections with them.
“[Being named to the Power List] was an amazing achievement,” Andrew said. “The Power List is made up of so many great and talented people. To be chosen as No. 1 made my day. It was a proud moment.”
Andrew grew up in Antigua and Barbuda. She ended up earning a medical degree in Cuba. When she moved to the United States, she ended up finding a job as a crew member at a McDonald’s in upstate New York as a means of supporting her education. However, it was then that she discovered a passion for mentoring other workers.
She credits much of her success to a strong ability to listen to her crew members, managers and anyone else around her. Her office has an open door policy. By constantly being available to listen to her employees, Andrew believes this will assist her in trying to extract their abilities and allow them to see their own potential.
Since moving to Queens from upstate New York, Andrew served as the people experience lead, in which she was dedicated to positively impacting the restaurant employee experience, before becoming the general manager at the Cambria Heights McDonald’s location about a year ago. There, she is in charge of a team of more than 90 employees. Despite the large number, she maintains a culture there that inspires the employees to learn and grow. She is passionate about fostering a sense of community, being a role model and providing her employees with the same kind of support and opportunities that she received throughout her career.
According to the Cambria Heights McDonald’s owner and operator Paul Hendel, Andrew has been a standout manager. He praised her for being able to effectively ensure the high volume of customers at the restaurant are satisfied with their experience. He also complemented her for her ability to adapt digitally, making sure the hundreds of daily mobile delivery orders are fulfilled.
“To make the Power List is just fantastic and she deserves it,” Hendel said. “There were thousands of applicants who applied to be part of that. What she does for the people I think sets her aside from everybody else and that’s probably why she made the list. She has developed numerous swing managers for us. She’s been a role model in that restaurant.”
Hendel noted that Andrew started out as a swing manager for McDonald’s at a location in Springfield Gardens before becoming a people experience lead. Some of her main responsibilities in the latter position included hiring employees and overseeing their onboarding by setting up their training.
According to Andrew, she has developed 12 swing managers over the last year. With another four currently in training, she is optimistic that total will rise to 16 before the end of 2023. At this time, she noted the restaurant currently has at least 21 certified crew trainers. When factoring in maintenance workers, she estimates the total number of her employees to be almost 90.
“It has been definitely a roller coaster of great emotions developing my people,” Andrew said. “I have a lot of young managers and they’re very in tune, solution-oriented and they’re always trying to learn more. I find that this generation has not been given the applause that they need for the things that they do so well.”
In addition to being grateful for the opportunity to grow within the company, Andrew is thankful that she has been able to do the same within the community. Her McDonald’s location has taken part in fundraisers for local schools and police precincts in the area. She also brought up the charitable efforts provided by Archways to Opportunity and the Ronald McDonald House.
Archways to Opportunity provides McDonald’s workers with multiple education programs that give them an opportunity to grow and learn. This includes improving English skills, earning a high school diploma, working toward a college degree and getting help in making an education and career plan with advisors.
The Ronald McDonald House provides families of children with cancer and other serious illnesses a strong, caring and seamless circle of support. Andrew described her recent experience visiting one of the locations. She said it was amazing to see the proceeds collected for this cause by her restaurant and others be put to good use by supporting such a great foundation.
“McDonald’s has made me into such a confident, strong person and a great leader,” Andrew said. “I hope to continue to build my team and run great restaurants.”
Hendel noted that many of the higher-ups within the company, including himself, got their start as a crew member for McDonald’s. He said this is reflective of the advancement opportunities provided by the company. He noted that the company is always looking for more talent. Those interested in applying for a job at McDonald’s should visit jobs.mchire.com.
“I’ve been with McDonald’s for 50 years,” Hendel said. “I think it’s a great first job. If you work with somebody like Claire, you can go places, whether it’s in the McDonald’s industry or any other career.”