When Bharat Todankar came to Thompson from Mumbai, India in 2012 and started working at McDonald’s, he thought he was starting a job, not necessarily a career.
“I never thought that I was going to be staying in McDonald’s for a long time,” he says.
But he did, eventually becoming the restaurant’s general manager about four years ago.
In September, he was one of the company’s 2019 Outstanding Manager of the Year Award recipients, an honour that only goes to the top 10 per cent of managers from the 1,400 McDonald’s restaurants across the country.
“I was surprised [when i found out about the award] and I was so happy,” he told the Nickel Belt News. “This is one of the biggest achievements in my life. Outstanding Manager of the Year for McDonald’s, only a few get those awards which is big for my future career. It’s not only about me, it’s also about my team, what we do here.”
Todankar studied hotel management and worked in five-star hotels as a front desk clerk and housekeeping supervisor in India before coming to Thompson. He also spent a year working at a restaurant in the United States as a temporary resident so the food-service industry was not completely foreign to him when he came to Canada. He started at McDonald’s as a regular crew member, then moved up to the position of swing manager.
“Then I’m involved in the systems, I’m involved more in the business so I understand how big is this company and how the training goes and everything, so professional so I don’t want to leave,” Todankar said. “I want to stick with this.”
The Thompson McDonald’s is one of the best in Manitoba in terms of sales growth and also among the top restaurants across Canada, something Todankar says is thanks to the people of Thompson and surrounding communities.
“They understand sometimes how busy we are but still they keep coming,” he said. “I want to thank everyone, the whole community. I saw when we were closed [for construction] last year there were lots of people who were asking about when we were going to open. The support we are getting from the community is important. That helps us to grow and stand out all over Canada.”
He also says he is proud of how the restaurant managed to keep most of its employees when it shut down while a new restaurant was being built.
“As a business it’s always difficult finding great employees,” Todankar says. “That was my focus and I always tell our management team that our focus is, of course, customer service. After that it is our people. We have to make sure we keep people happy who are working with us.”
“Bharat is all about his people,” said former Thompson McDonald’s franchisee Brett O’Meara, who has since handed the reins to Ouzzy Traore, in a Sept. 24 press release about Todankar’s achievement. “He leads by example and always puts the guest experience at the centre of everything we do. Bharat’s success is driven by his commitment to our brand and his daily focus on running a great restaurant. I couldn’t be more proud of his achievement and I know he will share this recognition with his entire team.”
Todankar sees himself as a McDonald’s employee over the long term.
“I want to become a supervisor and probably one day become an owner/operator for a McDonald’s,” he said. "That’s my future plan.”