SBJ Q&A w/… McDonald’s magnate Roy Griggs

The ever optimistic, energetic, encouraging CEO and President of Griggs Enterprise, Roy Griggs has been a philanthropist, volunteer, and solid neighbor for the past 40 years he’s lived in Shreveport. At 17, he began working at a McDonald’s in his Meridian, Miss., hometown. At 20, he was the restaurant’s first black manager. Now the owner of 17 McDonald’s restaurants in north Louisiana and east Texas, Griggs graciously and gladly took a few minutes to talk with SBJ about his life and loves, faith and motivation, and the two-sided coin called failure.

SBJ: How is Black History Month and what it signifies important to you? “We need to know our history so we don’t repeat some things of the past. It’s so important for me to remember the struggles of those who came before. I didn’t get where I am on my own effort; it was their effort that paved the way for me and others like me to own a McDonald’s restaurant. Some years ago, I couldn’t have even gone inside one. Kids need to know that, the history; it makes them appreciate of where we are today.”

SBJ: What’s your advice to young people who ask? “Find that one thing you really enjoy doing, what you’re passionate about. When you begin a career you don’t enjoy, and you’re going after what gives you a certain amount of cash, that’s not what’s driving your passion; it can eventually ‘break’ you. Work hard and follow what you do well and the money will come.”

SBJ: Was there the ‘moment’ you knew you could do this? “When I opened my first restaurant. You prepare but still all kinds of emotions are running through you. Fear of the unknown. I’d invested all I had. I had to hope and trust and believe in God, that he’d prepared me for this. Failure was not an option. Success is all about strategizing and planning. Nobody wakes up and says, ‘I’m going to fail today.’ But you can if you haven’t planned. And I you do fail, that doesn’t mean it’s over. Evaluate, don’t give up, and try again. The difference in winners and losers is winners don’t give up.”

SBJ: Your reaction when employees come back years later to say thanks? “It makes you feel good about yourself that you could put a couple of words into someone’s life and those words or encouragement made a difference, and that they’d thank you for the helping hand. That motivates me to try to ‘pull the next one up.’ Someone might get distracted and can’t see something in themselves — but someone else can see it and then remind them to believe in themselves, to have faith. To see them succeed is one huge thing that motivates me.”

SBJ: Any thoughts of retiring? “I’m still enjoying what I do. Business is a bit different now with the pandemic, but I’m still inspired and motivated to keep moving on. If I lost my passion, I’d quit. (Laughing) But I don’t see that in the foreseeable future.”

SBJ: Your favorite McDonald’s meal? “Quarter Pounder on a hamburger bun, mustard and ketchup, hot fries, strawberry shake … got to have the strawberry shake…”

SBJ: Do you get a discount? “Sometimes I do! Then again, there are times where they make me pay. And that’s all right too.”

— Teddy Allen, SBJ