McDonald's Family

Laurie Henry (left) and Elizabeth Henry (right) stand in front of the McDonald’s on West Washington Street, one of three locations they own and operate. Laurie calls her mother “Ms. Liz” at work to create the boundary between work and personal life. (Photo/Tyler Fenwick)

The Notorious B.I.G.’s seventh commandment, as heard on his 1997 sophomore album, “Life After Death,” was to keep family and business separate. He said “money and blood don’t mix.” But Elizabeth and Laurie Henry — a mother-and-daughter team in the McDonald’s business — have been mixing money and blood since their family moved to Indianapolis in the 1970s.

Elizabeth, 75, now owns three McDonald’s restaurants in the city: one in Eagle Plaza off West 38th Street, one on West Washington Street and one at the airport. Her daughter, Laurie, is the operational supervisor. Neither of them makes a decision without first talking to the other, and they try to keep their relationship neutral at work — where Laurie calls her mother “Ms. Liz” — so other workers don’t see them differently. Laurie said a lot of people don’t know at first they’re mother and daughter.

“We have to learn how to turn it off too,” Laurie, 49, said. “When you’re mother and daughter, I still have to respect that she is first my mom. I have to respect that piece, but also she learns that there’s a lot of value in quite a bit of the input I have in the business. She has to look at me not just as her daughter, but as her partner.”

The two find time for each other outside of work. They shop, go to shows, anything to keep a relationship that doesn’t revolve around the business. Last year they went on an Alaskan cruise.

Elizabeth and Laurie’s professional and personal relationships have been forged over time in part by tragedy.

Twenty-eight years ago, Elizabeth wasn’t sure what direction her career was heading. Her husband just died of a heart attack after he woke up from a nap on the couch with chest pain. She had dabbled in the family business — he owned some McDonald’s locations in Indianapolis after moving to the city to help his brother — and she was going through the training to become a McDonald’s certified franchisee but wasn’t finished.

She sat her three daughters down and asked what she should do, and they said she should go on with the business. Elizabeth operated what used to be her husband’s restaurants with her two oldest daughters, including Laurie, while she finished her training.

Elizabeth became a certified franchisee the next year and took over her husband’s locations. She sold some of them — including the ones at 38th Street and Tacoma Avenue and 16th and Meridian streets — and has since bought and sold more.

Two years ago, Elizabeth’s oldest daughter, who also worked in the business, died.

“All these years we’ve just been making it work,” she said.

Elizabeth, who recently celebrated her 75th birthday, has become known as the “queen of special sites” because, aside from the airport location, she also used to operate the McDonald’s at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Riley Hospital for Children.

Elizabeth said she’s started to think about retirement, but she hasn’t put a timeline on it yet. Besides, she said, her doctors have told her to keep on doing whatever she’s doing.

“I have a lot of trust in the man up above,” she said. “I’m very strong in my faith. I believe in God, and he has kept me this far.”

The Notorious B.I.G.’s seventh commandment, as heard on his 1997 sophomore album, “Life After Death,” was to keep family and business separate. He said “money and blood don’t mix.” But Elizabeth and Laurie Henry — a mother-and-daughter team in the McDonald’s business — have been mixing money and blood since their family moved to Indianapolis in the 1970s.

Elizabeth, 75, now owns three McDonald’s restaurants in the city: one in Eagle Plaza off West 38th Street, one on West Washington Street and one at the airport. Her daughter, Laurie, is the operational supervisor. Neither of them makes a decision without first talking to the other, and they try to keep their relationship neutral at work — where Laurie calls her mother “Ms. Liz” — so other workers don’t see them differently. Laurie said a lot of people don’t know at first they’re mother and daughter.

“We have to learn how to turn it off too,” Laurie, 49, said. “When you’re mother and daughter, I still have to respect that she is first my mom. I have to respect that piece, but also she learns that there’s a lot of value in quite a bit of the input I have in the business. She has to look at me not just as her daughter, but as her partner.”

The two find time for each other outside of work. They shop, go to shows, anything to keep a relationship that doesn’t revolve around the business. Last year they went on an Alaskan cruise.

Elizabeth and Laurie’s professional and personal relationships have been forged over time in part by tragedy.

Twenty-eight years ago, Elizabeth wasn’t sure what direction her career was heading. Her husband just died of a heart attack after he woke up from a nap on the couch with chest pain. She had dabbled in the family business — he owned some McDonald’s locations in Indianapolis after moving to the city to help his brother — and she was going through the training to become a McDonald’s certified franchisee but wasn’t finished.

She sat her three daughters down and asked what she should do, and they said she should go on with the business. Elizabeth operated what used to be her husband’s restaurants with her two oldest daughters, including Laurie, while she finished her training.

Elizabeth became a certified franchisee the next year and took over her husband’s locations. She sold some of them — including the ones at 38th Street and Tacoma Avenue and 16th and Meridian streets — and has since bought and sold more.

Two years ago, Elizabeth’s oldest daughter, who also worked in the business, died.

“All these years we’ve just been making it work,” she said.

Elizabeth, who recently celebrated her 75th birthday, has become known as the “queen of special sites” because, aside from the airport location, she also used to operate the McDonald’s at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Riley Hospital for Children.

Elizabeth said she’s started to think about retirement, but she hasn’t put a timeline on it yet. Besides, she said, her doctors have told her to keep on doing whatever she’s doing.

“I have a lot of trust in the man up above,” she said. “I’m very strong in my faith. I believe in God, and he has kept me this far.”

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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