MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — The McDonald's in Mayfield Heights, Ohio is back in business. The restaurant closed a few months ago for remodeling.
While the restaurant was closed, the long-time owner, Tony Philiou, continued to pay each employee.
“My employees helped me — without them, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” Philiou said.
Philiou came to the U.S. from Greece in 1947. He was 15 years old.
After serving in the Korean War, he got married, got a full-time job at a factory and bought a house. The house needed work and Philiou needed more money.
The house was just across the street from the then newly-opened McDonald's on Mayfield Road. In 1962, Philiou got a second job at the restaurant. He earned 90 cents per hour.
“The rest is history. Nothing matters to me other than being here, because I belong here,” said Philiou.
Over the next 60 years, he worked hard, moving up the ranks from part-time worker to management, and then owner.
“He treats you like family no matter how long he’s known you. It could be one day, it could be 30 days, it could be three years. He loves the people that work here,” said Mary Conti, a 45-year employee.
Philiou hired Ed Kocsis when he was 15 years old. He is now the general manager.
“It wasn’t the plan originally. It was a job to get me through high school and through college. When I graduated from college, Tony made me an offer and it worked out very well,” said Kocsis.
Philiou, now 90 years old, says he has achieved the American dream.
“Only in this country can this happen,” he said.
This story was originally reported by Tracy Carloss on news5cleveland.com.