Southside Success Story: The Acosta Family

Over 90% of McDonald’s restaurants in the United States are owned and operated by franchisees. One of those franchisees is the Acosta Family, headed up by Richard and Celia Acosta. Richard Acosta was born and raised in San Antonio. His single mother raised him and his 7 older siblings. He graduated from Brackenridge High School, located on the Southside. In 1973, he graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Shortly after the Vietnam War began, Richard enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he excelled in avionics, because he wanted to serve his country. After finishing his active duty service, he enlisted in the Air Force Reserve, where he remained for 13 years. Also, after active duty, Richard took a job, as a civilian in avionics, at Kelly Air Force Base. While working at the base, he met his future wife, Celia Chavez, who worked at the base as an administrative assistant.

Celia Chavez is a 9th generation Texan who was raised on San Antonio’s Southside. She graduated, with honors, from Southwest High School. Celia spent her summers either working in the fields or helping her mother clean houses and to help her parents financially, she worked part-time (on weekends) at Sears. Richard and Celia were married in 1968 and today, they are the proud parents of 5 children and the doting grandparents to 14 grandchildren. 

Approximately 7 years after they were married, Richard and Celia decided to start their own business- a McDonald’s franchise. Back in the mid-1970’s, it cost about $600,000 to get into McDonald’s. However, McDonald’s was starting a new program where the Acosta’s could lease a McDonald’s restaurant with the option to buy it after 3 years. The problem was that the cost was $50,000 to participate in the program, which the couple didn’t have. They took their early retirement from Kelly Air Force Base and sold their home, their vehicles and all of their personal possessions, but they still didn’t have quite enough money. So, they ended up having to borrow the rest of the money they needed from the Small Business Administration, allowing the couple to obtain their first McDonald’s restaurant.

Richard and Celia Acosta opened their first McDonald’s restaurant in 1975, on San Pedro Avenue. Today, they own and operate 47 franchise locations in and around the San Antonio and Corpus Christi areas of Texas. 

Today, 4 (Celia Jairala, Luis, Maria and Carlos) of Richard and Celia’s 5 children are also McDonald’s franchise owners and operators. However, these opportunities were not just handed to them. Richard and Celia insisted that their children receive an education before joining the family business.

Throughout the years, the Acosta Family has received numerous accomplishments, including:

The 2018 Fred L. Turner Golden Arch Award

The 1989 Ronald McDonald Award

42 Outstanding Restaurant Manager Awards

34 McDonald’s Outstanding Restaurant Awards

15 McDonald’s Outstanding Landscaping Awards

12 McDonald’s Outstanding Décor Awards

5 Ray Kroc Awards

3 McDonald’s Street Fighter Awards

3 Outstanding Crew Person of the Year Awards

3 Outstanding People Practices Awards and 

2 McDonald’s Pioneer Awards

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