Ron Lofton | Wendell Hutson/Contributor

The Black McDonald’s Operators Association sponsored its 10th annual Inspiration Celebration Gospel tour last week, and this week will give away free school supplies on the West Side.

The 14-member BMOA, which consists of black franchise owners in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, includes Ron Lofton as the only member with West Side restaurants.

His restaurants are located at 3200 W. Roosevelt Road, 5015 W. Madison St., 23 N. Western Ave., and 5133 W. Chicago Ave. And according to Lofton, he is looking into the possibility of opening a fifth McDonald’s restaurant at Ogden Avenue and Roosevelt Road.

As the sole black McDonald’s owner on the West Side, Lofton explained that there are more opportunities on the South Side than the West Side for potential franchise owners.

“The South Side is a (larger) geographical area than the West Side,” said Lofton. “It takes a lot to support a McDonald’s so you can’t oversaturate one area.”

Beyond competition from other restaurants, Lofton said another challenge he is having as a business owner is the city’s rising minimum wage, which is currently $10.50 per hour.

“The increase in minimum wage has not affected my business per say, but it has affected my bottom line tremendously,” added Lofton. “It’s a concern I have going forward.”

One way Lofton said he has balanced his costs is by reducing employee hours and days.

“I want to avoid laying off anyone, but I have to be able to stay in business and higher wages makes it difficult for small business owners like myself,” said Lofton. “I hire convicted felons and ex-drug offenders because I am true believer in helping ‘my brothers and sisters’ off the street.”

BMOA plans to distribute 45,000 school supplies from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday at Lofton’s Roosevelt Road restaurant.

The school supply giveaway follows a free concert BMOA sponsored Aug. 4 at the House of Hope on the Far South Side. The sold out concert at the 25,000-seat venue featured gospel singers Dorinda Clark-Cole, Donald Lawrence, DeWAyne Woods, Ricky Dillard, and Chicago’s Rev. Charles Jenkins, pastor of Fellowship Chicago.

The concert was an opportunity to thank customers for their years of support, said Derrick Taylor, president of BMOA.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community and to let them know we appreciate their business,” said Taylor, who owns seven South Side McDonald’s restaurants, the most among any local, black franchise owner. “Last Thanksgiving we gave away turkeys on the West Side and we hope to do more events on the West Side if the facilities we need are available.”