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Bloomberg has the fascinating story of Al Jarvis, a Michigan man who started working at a McDonald's when he was 16, and eventually became a franchisee when he bought one neat Grand Rapids.

"Over the years he hired hundreds of employees, saw dozens of menu items come and go, and spent four or five hours a day, five or six days a week, watching over the counter and grills from his vantage at the fry station," the story says. "Jarvis looked forward to celebrating 50 years with McDonald’s this past May. And then, six months short of that milestone, he sold his restaurants. 'I wanted to get the hell out,' he says..."

The reason? Jarvis says he is concerned that the company is losing touch with its roots. "Like many of his fellow operators, he wonders whether executives at headquarters will figure out how to innovate while staying true to the chain’s promise of serving good-tasting food fast. Jarvis’s experience suggests the answer is no, and unlike current franchisees, who are reluctant to speak on the record because they don’t want to provoke HQ, Jarvis is free to say what others can’t or won’t."

It is an enormously informative and detailed story, complete with numbers, that makes it clear just how difficult it is to run a McDonald's franchise ... and what the structural issues are that could prevent the chain from achieving past glories. You can read the whole story here.
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