For Amanda Giles, Mother’s Day is unique. It is an opportunity to thank her mom, Deborah Holder, for being her mentor as she runs her own McDonald’s restaurant — just like her mom. Together, they share their knowledge, ideas, and experiences to help each other be the greatest they can be as they grow.

Amanda and Deborah, along with Deborah’s husband, own six McDonald’s locations in total around the Raleigh-Durham area. The mother-daughter duo learn from each other as they navigate the business with their different perspectives. Each had very different paths to get to this point in their lives.

Deborah Holder started her McDonald’s journey in New York after seeing Lee Dunham, a McDonald’s owner-operator, on a television show about entrepreneurs. It inspired Deborah, who at the time was a flight attendant, and her husband, who was a police officer, to pursue this journey together.

“It took two and a half years to go through the McDonald’s registered applicant program,” Holder said. “Which involved working twenty hours a week for free.”

This led them to own their first McDonald’s which was located inside Laguardia Airport in New York. By the time they left New York for Raleigh in 2011, they had grown to half a dozen locations across Brooklyn and Queens, ultimately selling all six stores to move to North Carolina.

According to Deborah, the difference between New York and North Carolina is night and day. She went into detail about how difficult it was for small businesses to operate in New York with the Empire State’s burdensome taxes and regulations.

“It is so big and vast.” Holder told Carolina Journal of New York’s regulatory environment. “They have a syrup tax. The health department comes in and they count flies and give you fines all the time. It was just so difficult. We were looking to get out for a number of years and looking for an opportunity somewhere else, just to see what it was like.”

They realized in a New York minute that the Tar Heel State represented quite the change.

“The first thing one of our managers that came down with us said is that there were trees,” said Holder about the new setting in North Carolina. “The pace was so different; in New York it’s frantic and when you walk you’re doing a marathon. Down here everything is nice and relaxed and it’s just a nice slower pace. This is the place to be.”

Holder believes the slower pace and relaxing surroundings is among the many reasons people have been relocating to North Carolina from all around the country. The friendlier business environment doesn’t hurt, either.

Mother-Daughter Duo: Amanda Giles and Deborah Holder
Mother-Daughter Duo: Amanda Giles and Deborah Holder at Amanda’s McDonald’s location in Wendell, NC Source: Jacob Emmons, Carolina Journal

Holder’s daughter, Giles, is herself an Owner-Operator of a McDonald’s franchise in Wendell. After college, Amanda worked at a non-profit in Wake Forest, but soon began to look for another job, and working up the ranks at McDonald’s was a natural path. Starting as a crew member, Amanda worked her way up to department manager, general manager, and, finally, entered the McDonald’s program to become an owner-operator just like her mom.

“I’ve seen the progress of this area; it has grown so much,” Giles said about the Wendell area. “First of all, right here was dirt two years ago. We have seen a lot more community development and, I feel, particularly at this restaurant, we have been embraced by the community which is not something I would have anticipated in Queens or Brooklyn.”

As a business owner, Giles feels at home in the Wendell community.

“Getting to know people, partnering with the schools in the area, and doing teacher nights with them, and just being part of the community makes it feel like you’re getting a lot more out of it while you’re doing business and feel more involved,” she said.

Holder said navigating the challenges of operating a small business with her daughter makes it all that much more fulfilling. Of course, her daughter leans on her mom’s experience at the wheel, too, when she encounters bumps in the road.

“It’s nice when I have someone I can call and ask, ‘How do I get on this platform? How do I log in?’,” admitted Holder, laughing. “It’s great to get another perspective, a young perspective. We each have our own skill set that we bring to the table.”

“It’s different when you have someone you can call and you can have the McDonald’s answer and the mom answer,” says, daughter, Giles. “We work really well together and are able to get feedback off each other and it’s really fun. I enjoy work.”

So what does the future holds for this duo? They say they would love to grow if the opening came about.

“I look forward to the opportunity to grow again,” Giles said. “If there are other communities that need a place to get some coffee for breakfast and to just keep doing what we’re doing to keep giving back to the community.”