by LINDA FRABL

Shaping Futures

With her master’s degree as a reading specialist from NYC’s Columbia University, Encinitas resident Leslie Mannes was a sixth grade teacher with the Del Mar Union School District for seven years before taking over the family ownership and operation of five McDonald’s franchise restaurants in North County and El Cajon. Her association with the charitable aspects of McDonald’s, as well as her background in educating children, culminated in Leslie’s role as a board of trustees member for the Ronald McDonald House.

Leslie was on the executive committee for the 10th Annual ROMP Gala that took place in October and raised money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego. The fundraising event, entitled ROMP Enchanted: The Magic of Hope, was held at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and raised $600,000 in net proceeds. The evening also marked the conclusion of the More than a Meal campaign that was launched at the previous year’s ROMP Gala, in which $2.5 million was raised by more than 1,000 donors.


Name: Leslie Mannes
Profession: McDonald’s owner and operator
Community: Cardiff
Hobbies & Interests: I love traveling, spending time at the beach, and reading
Favorite Local Spots: Seaside Market, Union Kitchen & Tap, Besta-Wan, Moonlight Beach, and Grounded


Even amidst such magical elements as multiple acrobatic performances and garden-themed cocktails, Leslie emphasized the real goal of the evening: “Donations to Ronald McDonald House help strengthen families and bolster their psychological well-being during difficult times by keeping families together regardless of their situation or ability to pay. The staff, the volunteers, and the guests at the Ronald McDonald House create an emotional and physical sanctuary from the challenges involved with caring for a hospitalized child to restore a sense of normalcy during a time of turmoil. I strongly encourage San Diegans to consider donating to the Ronald McDonald House in any way they can.”

Her work overseeing McDonald’s franchises also enriches Leslie, because she loves watching her employees realize their potential through the company’s Archways to Opportunity comprehensive education program. She explained, “I’m committed to helping my employees achieve their dreams, and Archways to Opportunity helps them improve their English skills, earn a high school diploma, work toward a college degree, earn tuition assistance, and make an educational and career plan. With my background in teaching I put great emphasis on training, and I want to provide my employees with more than a job for today. I want to help shape their futures.”