Distinguished Alumni: Marilyn McDonald
Marilyn McDonald, a 1981 Valley graduate, made Silver Lake her business base for more than 25 years by being a successful wedding photographer who also manufactured and sold craft products wholesale.
But she wanted something else, a Subway franchise right there in Silver Lake. Lacking previous restaurant experience, she was turned down. “I fought to gain the franchise,” she says of the establishment that opened in November 2012. It currently runs above the national average and has received excellence of service awards every quarter it’s been open.
“What I am most proud of is the customer service we offer,” she says. “Managing 17-18 employees has its challenges but I strive to work with their schedules, which gives me some great employees.”
Last winter, she and her husband, Trent, took a look at a vacant spot in the Subway’s parking lot and decided a walk-up ice cream shop would complement the restaurant. The Igloo, the name of a business her stepfather Doyle Heckaman’s family operated from 1958-1975, sounded appropriate.
As inexperienced at operating an ice cream shop as she had been at owning a restaurant, she plunged in and now offers 20 flavors of Wisconsin ice cream, soft and hand dipped ice cream, non-fat yogurt, Italian ices, malts, shakes and sundaes. “It’s a fun place for everyone to come,” Marilyn says.
“With no formal education beyond high school, I’ve had to work hard and learn as I went,” she adds, “but it’s been worth it.”