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Tina Lewis

Restaurant owner and operator Tina Lewis and her husband, Harold Lewis, have managed twenty McDonald’s restaurant franchises since 1987. Lewis met her husband met in 1972 while working in the airline industry. Harold was employed with United Airlines in management positions in the sales and human resources departments; Tina worked as a flight attendant and an in-flight services instructor with United Airlines and Continental Airlines.

In 1982, Lewis and her husband embarked on their first business venture when they purchased a Sir Speedy Printing franchise in Los Angeles. Lewis co-managed the business for four years and assisted in winning a printing contract with the U.S. Olympics Committee. They sold the Sir Speedy Printing franchise in 1986 and began the process of becoming McDonald’s restaurant franchise owners and operators. In 1987, Lewis and her husband established HRL Group, LLC and opened their first McDonald’s restaurant franchise in Sand Diego, California. From 1987 to 2011, HRL Group, LLC operated twenty McDonald’s restaurants.

Lewis has been a leader in the San Diego County McDonald’s Operators Association. As a community leader, she has contributed numerous hours and resources to a variety of community organizations and causes. In 1993, Lewis and her husband founded the African American Future Achievers Scholarship Program, which has awarded more than $550,000 to graduating high school seniors in the San Diego County. In addition, Lewis and her husband have provided scholarships through the Trumpet Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lewis is a member of the Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation’s national speaker’s bureau, and the San Diego Chapter of The Links, Inc. She has also served on the board of directors for the Susan G. Komen Advocacy Alliance, and on the board of directors for the Scripps Polster Breast Center.

Lewis has received numerous awards for her leadership and community service including the California Legislature Assembly Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, the United Negro College Fund Frederick D. Patterson Award, the Urban League Equal Opportunity Award, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Economic Development Award. She also received the McDonald’s Corporation “Ronald Award” for Community Service, the McDonald’s Corporation NBMOA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2010 Women of Distinction Award.

Tina Lewis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.347

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/22/2013

Last Name

Lewis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

Horace Mann Middle School

George Washington Preparatory High School

Los Angeles High School

Los Angeles City College

California State University, Los Angeles

First Name

Tina

HM ID

LEW19

Favorite Season

Christmas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere With Family

Favorite Quote

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required.$

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

6/23/1948

Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Favorite Food

Creole Food

Short Description

Restaurant owner and operator Tina Lewis (1948 - ) managed twenty McDonald’s restaurant franchises in partnership with her husband, Harold Lewis.

Employment

McDonald's Corporation

HRL Group, LLC

Sir Speedy Printing

United Airlines

Continental Airlines

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tina Lewis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tina Lewis lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tina Lewis describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tina Lewis talks about her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tina Lewis talks about her Creole identity

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tina Lewis lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tina Lewis describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tina Lewis describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tina Lewis talks about her relationship with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Tina Lewis describes her neighborhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Tina Lewis talks about her early experiences of religion

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Tina Lewis remembers her home life

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Tina Lewis describes the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Tina Lewis talks about her family's move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tina Lewis remembers Los Angeles High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tina Lewis describes her awareness of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tina Lewis remembers her involvement in the black student movement

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tina Lewis talks about her time as a flight attendant for United Airlines

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tina Lewis remembers meeting her husband, Harold Lewis

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tina Lewis recalls her transition to the tobacco and pharmaceutical sales industry

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tina Lewis remembers working as a flight attendant instructor for Continental Airlines

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tina Lewis recalls purchasing a franchise of Sir Speedy, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tina Lewis talks about her business strategy

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tina Lewis recalls her start as a McDonald's franchisee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tina Lewis remembers meeting Hiawatha Harris

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tina Lewis talks about meeting Reginald Webb

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tina Lewis talks about Reginald Webb

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tina Lewis talks about the McDonald's Corporations criteria for franchisees

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tina Lewis recalls opening a McDonald's franchise in San Diego, California

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tina Lewis remembers building her first McDonald's restaurant

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tina Lewis talks about the history of black McDonald's franchisees

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tina Lewis remembers the opening day of business at her first McDonald's franchise

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tina Lewis talks about the failure of her second McDonald's franchise, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tina Lewis recalls the birth of her twins

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tina Lewis talks about the failure of her second McDonald's franchise, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tina Lewis remembers receiving support from Reginald Webb and Gerald Newman

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tina Lewis talks about David Rowe

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Tina Lewis describes the expansion of her McDonald's franchise business

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Tina Lewis talks about balancing her family and career

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tina Lewis remembers serving grits in her McDonald's restaurant in San Diego, California

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tina Lewis describes organizing the first McDonald's GospelFest in San Diego, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tina Lewis talks about the expansion of her McDonald's restaurant holdings

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tina Lewis remembers moving to Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tina Lewis talks about the National Black McDonald's Operators Association

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tina Lewis talks about her relationship with McDonald's executive Donald Thompson

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tina Lewis recalls acquiring McDonald's franchises in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Tina Lewis talks about her children and her philanthropic activities

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Tina Lewis talks about passing her business to her children

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Tina Lewis remembers her cancer diagnoses

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Tina Lewis describes her experiences during cancer treatment

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Tina Lewis talks about her support for breast cancer patients

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Tina Lewis describes the changes in cancer treatment

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Tina Lewis remembers suffering a heart attack due to chemotherapy complications

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Tina Lewis reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Tina Lewis describes her lessons to her children about segregation

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Tina Lewis describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Tina Lewis talks about the challenges of entrepreneurship

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Tina Lewis reflects upon her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Tina Lewis narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Tina Lewis narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$8

DATitle
Tina Lewis remembers her involvement in the black student movement
Tina Lewis remembers building her first McDonald's restaurant
Transcript
So, where did this come? Wait, all of a sudden--when did this militantism happen?$$I was very much a mili- first of all, I'm an el- I'm firstborn, okay, so I'm very much take charge. And you know, even though when I started driving, my father [Charles Ricard, Sr.] said, "Don't drive the freeways." I drove the freeways. My father would say, "Don't do this." I would do it. I was just rebellious. I was al- I, and I wasn't as a very young person, but I--maybe that was part of my way of dealing with the fact that I was moved from my southern environment, my--this protected environment to now Los Angeles [California], which was very much, you know, not a very nurturing environment in school. It's not like I knew Sister So and So who was teaching this class or you know, Mother So and So who was teaching that class. It was totally different. I was just a number. I was just, you know, that's it. I was just a number. And, but when I got to L.A. High [Los Angeles High School, Los Angeles, California], I was very much a militant. I had the, one of the biggest, largest Afros on campus. I was very much involved in the Black Student Union [at California State College at Los Angeles; California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California]. I was--I knew Ron Karenga. He gave me my Swahili name.$$What was your Swahili name?$$Oh gosh, you're ask- Kimachu. And I was very much a militant. I would, I would be at parties with the--where the Black Panthers would come into the party. And I, I was, I was okay with that. I didn't have a problem with that, until one day one of them came in shot. And I realized you can't do this anymore (laughter). But I very involved in the black student unit and--union, and so, consequently, I never pledged a sorority, because to me that wasn't what I was about at that time.$$So this was a time really of a lot of tum- tum- tumultuous times.$$Exactly.$$Was [HistoryMaker] Angela Davis--'cause I know she told a story. And she, she was talking about how they called the Black Panther Party there the Pink Panther Party, 'cause--$$Yeah.$$--there were women, you know, involved in, in the party.$$Very much so. Now I wasn't involved in the Black Panther Party. I was just involved in the Black Student Union on--$$So what were--$$--campus.$$--what were you, what were advocating for as part of the Black Student Union?$$Well, equal rights, pretty much. I mean, we had not received what we felt was equal rights. I mean, we were still struggling for jobs, struggling for an education, struggling for scholarships. So that's what, that really was what it was about.$$And this--[HistoryMaker] Maulana Karenga, he was coming into his own too, right?$$Um-hm.$$Had he founded Kwanzaa at that point? He hadn't started Kwanzaa.$$No, no.$$Okay, 'cause he (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I think that came after.$$That came later, right--$$Yeah.$$--right. Were there other people's names that we might know who were active in that period that, you know, in the, in the community and things like that?$$You would have to call upon my memory, and I just--$$Okay, okay.$$--I'd have to go back and try and see if I could remember some of that.$$So now--$$That's a long time ago.$So how was the building of the first store? How does that, how long does that take? And I mean, you say you're breaking ground the next day, so how long does the, it take from the time that you--$$Let's see, we broke ground in September, and we opened in February.$$That's, that's quick.$$Um-hm.$$So staffing, 'cause it's a thing when you have to manage staff. You had not--$$We have to hire staff from ground up. That's interview- viewing at a construction site, exactly. That's running the ads, interviewing on site. I got to select all the decor, you know, the, the colors, everything, the layout. It's, it was very exciting, you know, to walk through and be--I was--we were on site every day. I can remember McDonald's Corporation wanting us to fence in the property because it was such a bad area [in San Diego, California]. And we said no. We're not sending that signal to this community. We're gonna be a part of this community from, from day one. And we're gonna have African American art on the walls of our restaurant. And it's going to be the community's restaurant. And remember, we're talking about a time when we had Crips and Bloods working in, you know, living in the same vicinity of our restaurant. We had a restaurant in the heart of all that, that was protected. That community were--they endeared us from the very beginni- beginning. They embraced us. We became very involved in that community from, from the very beginning. You know, we went--we were invited to homes of different community leaders and introduced. It was, it was exciting. You know, they welcomed us and protected us. And we had customers that told other customers if they were messing up, "You don't mess up in this restaurant," (laughter). So, it was it, it--we had a lot of ownership. That was our first baby. Now that was difficult for us to--when we sold and relocated, that was hard to do.$$Because that was--that's how you guys (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, we built--$$--started it.$$That's how we started.