Board Member, Audubon Nature Institute
Chris Bardell is the Owner/Operator of 12 McDonald’s restaurants in the Greater New Orleans area. When asked what he imagines he would do if he did not work at McDonald’s, Bardell says it is impossible. What started as a part-time summer job at a McDonald’s restaurant in Laplace led to what has become a lifelong career. Bardell moved his way through the ranks at McDonald’s, working at restaurants across the entire Greater New Orleans area in the process. He was a Crew Member, Shift Manager, Assistant Manager, Restaurant Manager, Senior Restaurant Manager and Area Supervisor. He also worked in the McDonald’s Corporation Regional Office as a Business Consultant, providing operational guidance to McDonald’s Owner/Operators throughout Louisiana. Bardell always knew he wanted to own his own business. In 2001, he realized that dream when he purchased his first McDonald’s restaurant, the location on Bullard Avenue in New Orleans. Shortly thereafter, he became the Owner/Operator of the two restaurants on Canal Street in downtown New Orleans. By 2005, Bardell owned six restaurants in the market. When Hurricane Katrina struck the city, all six of his restaurants were damaged and closed. Over the next several months, he helped many of his managers move back to the area, and with their help, was able to re-open his existing restaurants and buy additional ones. By 2008, he owned and operated 17 restaurants in the Greater New Orleans area. In 2008, Bardell was selected by McDonald’s Corporation to attend the National African American History Month celebration at The White House. The invitation was extended to Owner/Operators who are considered to be outstanding ambassadors and leaders in their communities. Bardell truly is a leader, both within the McDonald’s system and in his community. He is President of the Great Southern Region’s Black McDonald's Operator Association; a member of the Great Southern Region’s Leadership Council; Vice Chair of Operations of the African American Marketing Committee for McDonald’s of New Orleans Ad-Co, Inc.; and serves on the McDonald’s National Supply Leadership Council. As a member of McDonald’s of New Orleans Ad-Co, Inc., Bardell contributes to many causes in the New Orleans market, such as the local Ronald McDonald House Charities. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Audubon Nature Institute, where he sponsors various community events. His company is the title sponsor of Audubon Zoo’s Get Yah Praise On, a gospel music experience held each year during Black History Month; a co-sponsor of Audubon Zoo’s Soul Fest, a celebration of African American culture; and the sponsor of Special Needs Day as well. Bardell says that one of the most rewarding things about his position as a McDonald’s Owner/Operator is being able to give back to others. He credits many people with mentoring him throughout his career and he works hard to give back to his employees in the same way. Whether it is helping a crew member develop a career, or volunteering his time for local non-profit organizations, his contributions to the community are many. Bardell gives back to his community in one other notable way as well: he is a volunteer police officer in St. John the Baptist Parish. Bardell is a life-long resident of St. John the Baptist Parish. He currently lives in Laplace with his wife, Lentreise. Together they have two sons, Dylan and Kyle.