HONOLULU (KHON2) — When Patrick Lim walks through the kitchen of a McDonald’s restaurant it’s all very familiar — because he’s pretty much held every position restaurant offers.

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“You do everything. You clean the dining room and wipe the tables, you clean the restrooms,” said Lim, McDonald’s Hawaii Island owner and operator.

Lim got his first job at a McDonald’s restaurant 1974 fresh out of college and eager to work.
Now nearly half a century later he still works for McDonald’s.

Only now, as the owner and operator of all 10 Hawaii Island restaurants.

“Is this the all American dream? I am living the all American dream,” said Lim.

And it’s a dream he shares with his wife Debbie who’s been there from the beginning.

“It’s beyond amazing. The opportunity McDonald’s has given us as a family is unbelievable,” said Debbie.

Today the Lim family overseas anywhere between 350 to 400 employees. And now with the help from their youngest of three sons David.

A graduate of Iolani School and University of Southern California who said he decided to return home and prove he could make it on his own.

“Finally gaining that acumen to see McDonald’s in a different light than the McDonald’s that I knew growing up,” said David. “And I thought it was a great avenue significant impact on the community to make a significant impact in the community, that I love the most”.

“When we first started, we were only on the Hilo side and right before COVID,” said Patrick. “We had opportunity to take over the Kona side. With all the restaurants we need a lot of help and David has been very instrumental”.

Like most other busineses covid presented great challenges. But it also brought oppurtunity.

“Besides drive-through and counter, we can serve customer mobile phone by using the mobile phones and we have a curbside delivery,” explained Patrick.

The Lim family also saw the pandemic as another opportunity to be there for their entire extended family.

“We knew, and we decided as a family that we would hold onto our employees,” said Debbie. “No one got let go, and we really worked hard to allow them to have the hours to take care of themselves and have a safe place to work and serve our community. That is what we do.”

And that sense of community she said is the secret ingredient, or in their case the special sauce, to their success.

“The pandemic was horrible but behind the arches is the love for our community,” said Debbie. “That will continue on with our children, understanding that in the business supporting that that’s what it’s all about.”

“It goes far beyond learning how to flip a burger. A lot of our people here are like my father first generation they learn English,” said David.

And for Patrick that’s the ultimate gift — to give his employees same hopes and dreams he had a half century ago.

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“America gave us the opportunity as long as you’re not afraid to work hard you can chase your dreams,” said Patrick.