26 March 2023

Brad's first job was flipping burgers in Wagga - he's now building his fifth McDonald's in Canberra

| James Coleman
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man and woman looking at plans

Brad and Kate Carroll outside the site of the new McDonald’s in Phillip. Photo: Brad Carroll.

Brad Carroll started flipping burgers at the age of 14 in his home town of Wagga Wagga as “a casual job after school for some extra money”. Now, 28 years later, he’s overseeing the construction of his fifth McDonald’s restaurant in Canberra.

The new restaurant will sit on the site of the former Magnet Mart hardware store in Hindmarsh Drive, Phillip, and will include a dual-lane drive-through, McCafe and ”PlayPlace” area. There will also be an attached service station, operated by Metro.

“It will just be everything you expect in a brand-new facility,” Brad says.

The father of three currently employs more than 500 people across his four existing ”Maccas” restaurants in Manuka, Molonglo Valley, Weston and Westfield Woden. This new one will push the total crew members under his watch towards 700.

Brad has also been recognised as one of Canberra’s key employers for ”Inclusion in Employment” at the ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards in 2022.

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“I was looking to do a trade at the end of year 12, but I just got the bug of McDonald’s and really loved working there,” he says, reflecting on his first job in Wagga.

“With any business, if you become passionate about it, it doesn’t become so much work when it’s thoroughly enjoyable.”

One thing led to another and he was promoted to restaurant manager after finishing school. Still in his late teens, he and his wife Kate bought their first property when they realised that by doing up houses and selling them, they could turn a handsome sum. Enough, say, to buy their first McDonald’s franchise in 2010.

This grew to two restaurants, then a third, and a fourth, all still in Wagga. From here, they expanded to two more in Leeton and Temora before moving to Canberra in 2015.

artist's impression of a McDonald's

An artist’s impression of McDonald’s Phillip, including the petrol station and drive-through. Image: Richmond and Ross.

“I guess being young and ambitious, we were sort of landlocked where we were,” Brad says.

“An opportunity came up in Canberra to run two restaurants. We always like visiting Canberra to see friends so we thought, why not?”

The new venture in Phillip is the first in the area to offer a drive-through.

“McDonald’s Australia finds the sites, based on all kinds of things – demographics, if there’s a major highway or thoroughfare going through, population growth, and what other industries are nearby,” Brad says.

“The closest drive-through [to Woden] is Weston or over the hill in Erindale, so there has been a hole to be filled in Canberra for some time as far as our offering goes. We’re very excited about it.”

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Meanwhile, the Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) says there are “diverse views about the merits” of the new restaurant.

“Many people are acutely aware that it is on the site of the old hardware shop and garden centre,” WVCC president Fiona Carrick says.

“After the loss of most of Woden’s recreation precinct to residential towers, we need to better understand the future of services in … Phillip, given it is zoned for five and six-storey apartments and ground-floor commercial tenancies.”

Fiona also cites traffic congestion as an increasing issue for Woden.

“It would be handy if traffic can head south from the drive-through without having to re-enter Hindmarsh Drive.”

Construction on the restaurant is scheduled to take 30 weeks, with completion pencilled in for the end of October.

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Ross of Canberra7:20 pm 01 Apr 23

Another reader chokes on another franchise burger. Every franchise burger lacks 40% mass and 60% care. But you, the public, drive through and feed your selves and your children convenience vs. health. I don’t need a rags-to-mega-riches story; I’d rather a story of a new local takeaway.

I’m not a big fan of their food, mainly consuming it when travelling interstate.

But it is one of the better employers for kids. It is easy for kids to get a job there without having to have previous experience, and their opening hours make work flexibility possible.

It’s possible for kids to get shifts there at times that when most other businesses are closed, and to work around school and sport commitments.

It isn’t a perfect place to work, and I’ve certainly heard some horror stories, but a lot of kids have found it a great employer.

Good on them. They are having a go and employing young people. People decide for themselves what they eat. Well done!!!

More opportunities for non-food food. Oh dear.

As a previous McD manager (one of those being in Manuka where we were always one of the high achieving stores) I’ve often tried to get in touch with management of the Temora store regarding the poor cleanliness and customer service to no avail. It is consistently poorly maintained, and the customer service isn’t much better. Perhaps try focusing on that before buying more stores?

You obviously haven’t been to Manuka for a while then. A friend went there 4 nights in a week (I’m urging her to seek counselling) and she said the service was cr*p, toilets were disgusting and staff incompetent – on 3 of the 4 occasions she had to find out what had happened to her order. She said their prime focus is ‘ride share’ delivery orders and too bad for in store customers. Needless to say she hasn’t been back and won’t go back.

I guess because I’m not a patron of Maccas, it’s not something I ever thought about, but I didn’t realise that Maccas sites were franchised – just assumed they were all part of the “Golden Arches” mega business. Nice to see Brad and Kate Carroll doing well in their chosen career.

Great that he’s an inclusive employer and all but this seems like the worst possible addition to a town centre. surely a new maccas in a town centre, if it must exist, should be under some apartments, not attached to a fuel station and surface car park!

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