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Keeping Up With The Krampes

It's a good thing local McDonald's franchisee Ed Krampe has added wireless Internet access (WiFi) to some of his restaurants. At the pace he's growing, he'll need it to keep track.

A few weeks ago Krampe took the wrecking ball to his location on Johnston Street at Lana Drive. The rebuilt restaurant is slated to open again this May and feature WiFi, a more customer friendly drive-through, cashless payment options and video games for children. In the past 18 months, he's completed overhauls at four locations, totally rebuilt a restaurant in Opelousas and opened a new one in Church Point. WiFi is now available at McDonald's on Kaliste Saloom Road, in Lafayette North, Opelousas and eventually all 24 locations that Krampe owns. He has one of the most active franchises in Acadiana, which is especially impressive for such a mature brand.

Krampe's relationship with McDonald's began as a vendor for the up-and-coming franchise more than 30 years ago in California. "I saw the potential and began looking at open markets," he recalls. His choice was between Lafayette and Corpus Christi, Texas. "Thank God I didn't go there!" he says with a laugh. He arrived in Acadiana to find the market dominated by Burger Chef, which was changed to Burger King when Chart House of Lafayette bought the group of local drive-in restaurants. "They were the biggest Burger King franchise in America at the time," Krampe says, "and the first 10 years were tough for us. I didn't have a lot of equity and this is a cash business." (The local Burger Kings were eventually sold and are now owned by a franchisee in California.)

So is owning a franchise like McDonald's a guaranteed road to riches? Hardly, says Krampe ' it takes hard work to succeed. "Many operators don't make it," he says. "We live the business." And it's a family affair.

Ed's sons E.J. and Chris are both involved and give McDonald's high marks for the company's sensitivity to changes in public opinion and market tastes. "The menu now includes more choices for healthy lifestyles," notes E.J., listing new salad and fruit options, yogurt, lowfat milk and bottled water. The Krampe-owned franchises also recycle cardboard and cooking oil. But all say that local, hands-on management is the key to their success. They are especially proud of the retention rate among employees, which currently number almost 1,000, and the opportunities for promotion they can offer.

And what do these McDonald's moguls order when they hit the drive-through? "Double cheeseburger for me," says Ed. "Quarter-pounder with cheese," answers Chris. "Double cheeseburger with extra pickles," says E.J. Of course I just had to know!

Meza and Miller honored for Exemplary Cancer Patient Care

Dr. Luis Meza will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and Jo Anne Miller, RN, BSN, OCN, will be honored with The Spirit of Hope Award at the first annual Viva la Cure! gala and fundraiser at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, at The City Club at River Ranch. Meza, president and founder of Southwest Oncology Associates in Lafayette, is a nationally recognized leader in cancer research and treatment. Miller, who provided care for cancer patients for more than 20 years at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, is also being recognized for her volunteer efforts with the Lafayette Cancer Survivors Group. In addition to Las Vegas-style gaming, the gala will serve up wine, heavy hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. Sponsors include Moss Motors, Hibernia Bank, Lafayette General Medical Center, Southwest Oncology Center, Sam Robertson Realty, KATC-TV 3, KTDY 99.9 and The Ind. Tickets are $100. For more information, call 237-3797 or (800) ACS-2345.