It’s a name most people in Adams County are familiar with, even if it doesn’t sound indigenous to the area – Gallowitz. Even if people don’t recognize the name, they most assuredly recognize the business behind the name – McDonald’s. Originally from the Cleveland area, Bob and Georgia Gallowitz were the first and only members of their family to pull up roots and leave their life-long home in Cuyahoga County.
“It all got started over a fence,” Georgia told the Defender on Tuesday morning.
“Our neighbor was a McDonald’s supervisor,” Bob explained. “He encouraged me to think about a career with McDonald’s, and I so I did.” Bob applied and was accepted into the McDonalds training program, and the rest is history. Their pioneering spirit brought them to Adams County in 1989, on the heels of the county’s first Walmart store.
“The only thing I knew about Adams County back then was that it was the location of Serpent Mound,” Bob said, but after coming down and meeting the people, I told Georgia, these people are really friendly.”
They held the grand opening for their first restaurant in West Union on Dec. 18, 1989, in the midst of a severe winter storm that dropped two feet of snow across the county. The storm failed to keep people away. “We had long lines of cars waiting to get in on that first day,” Gallowitz remembered. “The business took right off.”
The success of that first store was followed up by three more. In 1995 they opened a second McDonald’s in Ripley. The following year, 1996, they opened their Peebles location, and in 2007 they held a final grand opening in Seaman. For 27 years Bob and Georgia have worked to build their business with a focus on people and community.
“I’m in this for the people,” Bob explains.
The communities in Adams County have all been beneficiaries of the Gallowitz’s generosity.
They have funneled their humanitarian efforts into the local school systems, the county fair, the Ronald McDonald House, the Red Cross, and many more. “They’ve donated to seemingly every project and good cause imaginable,” Don Bowles of C103 told his listening audience during the 2015 Holiday Tournament, (which is sponsored by the Gallowitz family).
They have made a tradition of supporting local schools and projects, both academic and athletic.
The hugely successful Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament was one of the first local projects the Gallowitz family focused on. Bob and Georgia began investigating the idea at the urging of their student-athlete employees. Working with school officials they developed the idea, ironed out the details, and in 1993 held their first tournament. Twenty-two years later, it is still going strong.
“It began as a fund raiser for the schools, giving the host school and its boosters the opportunity to raise money,” Bob explains. “We provide the T-shirts, the trophies, the costs of the referees, security, and so on, allowing the boosters to keep the funds they raise to benefit their school.” The tournament includes both boys and girls teams at the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels from all four county schools. Every year two different schools act as hosts for the games.
The Gallowitz’s have been recognized and honored for their work with local schools. In 2010 they were chosen to receive the Friend of Education Award.
In addition to their work with local schools, they have also given hundreds of local young people their first jobs and contributed time and money to the Adams County Fair. They have purchased hundreds of fair projects – cakes, pies, and cattle, in support of local 4H groups.
Bob and Georgia are also very active in their support of the Ronald McDonald House. Every time a local family stays at the facility located at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, the Gallowitz family picks up the tab.
“Community matters to us,” Bob said. “People matter to us.” In the 27 years since they became Adams Countians, they’ve strived to live out that principle by giving back to their community.
Having announced their official retirement and the selling of their businesses to their daughters, Connie Schumacher and Susan Head, the Gallowitz couple are now prepared to begin a new chapter in their lives. When asked what comes next, Georgia replied emphatically, “We’re not leaving, this is home now, we’re staying right here.”