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Charlie Constantino is remembered for philanthropy, global impact through PAR Technology

Charlie Constantino

Businessperson and philanthropist Charles A. Constantino, 83, passed away on Nov. 21, leaving a legacy of local philanthropy that left a positive impact on Rochester and Central New York as well as globally.

A proud first-generation American, Constantino learned at a young age from his Sicilian parents to embrace family and a strong work ethic. His first job was behind a cash register at Caccamo’s market on Central Park in the city of Rochester. This job that his mother, Fannie, lovingly pushed him to at age 13 would prove to be a foreshadowing.

Two decades later, from behind a cash register at his McDonald’s store, Fannie would steer Constantino toward disruptive technology for point-of-sale (POS) systems worldwide. However, there would be numerous cash-register rings and decades of hard work before “success” would be deemed by stock-market numbers.

Constantino was schooled at St. Francis Xavier on Bay Street and graduated from East High School in 1957. He went on to be a member of the fifth graduating class of St. John Fisher College in 1961. He earned a master’s degree in applied mathematics and computer science from the University of Rochester and completed all-but-dissertation work for a PhD at Syracuse University.

In 2001, Constantino was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from St. John Fisher College (now St. John Fisher University), where he served on the college board for more than 40 years and as chairperson from 1998 to 2001. He was very proud that more than 30 members of his immediate and extended family graduated from Fisher, including two of his children.

He and his wife, Elaine, created the Constantino Family Scholarship and the Fannie & Sam Constantino First Generation Scholarship program at Fisher. Hundreds of students have earned degrees from Fisher and immeasurable opportunities by way of these scholarships.

While working as mathematician for the U.S. Department of Defense at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y. he met engineer John Sammon, and together they co-founded PAR Corp. in 1968 (PAR = Pattern Analysis and Recognition). PAR’s government work included running operations at Cheyenne Mountain and helping Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf turn the “Mother of All Battles” into the “Mother of All Retreats” during the Persian Gulf War, ultimately saving thousands of American soldiers’ lives.

Today known as PAR Technology, the company is publicly traded as PAR on the New York Stock Exchange and retains a government division and commercial division. The commercial side was launched in the 1970s when Constantino revolutionized point-of-sale (POS) systems for restaurants and retail.

PAR’s POS work was initiated through Constantino’s ownership of five McDonald’s stores, where he worked directly with McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc to improve several practices for franchises nationwide even before the revolutionary POS system.

These new McDonald’s practices included the addition of suggestive selling, a restructuring of mandated advertising, and the ability to construct McDonald’s stores in small-population communities, as he did in Canandaigua. Constantino joined Kroc in making videos at McDonald’s headquarters to introduce these new practices companywide. He had been on Kroc’s radar after earning the company’s coveted “Archie Award” for highest achievement when pursuing his operator’s license.

Constantino’s mother is credited for influencing the launch of PAR’s POS system. As a trainer for his stores, she witnessed math errors during counter transactions and persuaded Constantino and PAR to create the revolutionary system. Today there are more than a half-million PAR terminals in retail and hospitality operations in more than 110 countries. PAR systems not only make ordering at fast-food restaurants more accurate but also more efficient. In essence, Constantino helped ensure the word “fast” in fast food.

In addition to PAR, Constantino’s business ventures with colleagues included Flare Gate, Steriliz, Charlie Bubbles restaurant chain, and co-ownership of The Strathallan hotel for 20 years. He also consulted and guided dozens of Rochester area businesses.

A lifelong sports fan, Constantino attended the Mickey Mantle & Whitey Ford Yankees Fantasy Camp and forged a friendship with Mantle. Together, they produced a successful videotape series starring Mantle and supported philanthropic ventures.

Constantino encouraged compassion and kindness and often advised his children and grandchildren of a lesson his parents taught him: “Do what you can, when you can, for as many people as you can. Help others.”

In addition to St. John Fisher College, Constantino’s philanthropic efforts included Rochester General Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House in the Rochester area and Rome Catholic High and the Larry DeLutis Baseball Complex in Rome.

In Central New York he was inducted into the Catholic Schools Association of Rome Hall of Fame and the Rome Sports Hall of Fame and was honored with the Mohawk Valley Leadership EDGE Award.

Constantino is survived by his wife of 61 years, who was with him when he passed, overlooking his beloved Canandaigua Lake. He is also survived by his brother, Dr. Richard Constantino, a medical doctor with the Rochester Regional Health and with whom he shared a close bond.

Constantino is also survived by his four children — Chuck Constantino, Cindy Constantino-Gleason, Caryn Hurwitz, and Sam Constantino — as well as their spouses, 11 grandchildren, and several cousins, nieces, nephews, and close friends.

A celebration of his life will be held at St. John Fisher University on Dec. 2.

Arrangements are through Memorials may be made in his memory to the Fannie & Sam Constantino First Generation Scholarship Program at St. John Fisher University, 3690 East Avenue, Rochester, New York 14618.

Dresden Engle is a friend of the Constantino family and is currently editing Charlie Constantino’s autobiography, which Constantino completed before his passing.

McDonald’s to hire 260,000 employees this summer

As New York state continues its reopening plans, McDonald’s restaurants are expecting to hire approximately 260,000 restaurant employees this summer, including in the Rochester area.

The fast-food restaurant has put extra precautions in place as it begins to open its dining rooms, company officials said Thursday. McDonald’s has implemented nearly 50 new safety procedures to protect crew and customers. These include wellness and temperature checks, social distancing floor stickers, protective barriers at order points, masks and gloves for employees with the addition of new procedures and training for the opening of dining rooms.

“It was important to us to stay open through drive-thru, take-out and delivery to serve our communities throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We are a people business at our core, and as we look to re-open our dining rooms, the safety and wellness of our customers and employees is a top priority, as it has been throughout our 65-year history,” said Louis Buono, a McDonald’s owner/operator. “McDonald’s is said to be America’s best first job, but we have opportunities for anyone in the community who is looking for a flexible, fun, safe and rewarding work environment. As a local business owner, we’re proud to provide employment and educational opportunities to our crew and look forward to welcoming new employees to our McFamily this summer.”

This year marks the five-year anniversary of McDonald’s tuition assistance program, Archways to Opportunity. The restaurant has awarded more than $100 million in tuition assistance and supported more than 55,000 restaurant workers and corporate employees since the program’s inception. Eligible after just 90 days and 15 hours a week, restaurant employees can earn a high school diploma and receive $2,500 in upfront college tuition assistance.

Restaurant employees can also access free education and career advising services and the opportunity to learn English as a second language. Archways to Opportunity has promoted opportunity and mobility for McDonald’s diverse employee community, company officials said.

More than 50 percent of the participants are individuals who identify as people of color and nearly two-thirds of participants are women. This year, McDonald’s has given out more than $498,000 in tuition assistance and supported more than 233 restaurant employees throughout Upstate New York, including Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Rome and Watertown.

Job seekers can visit to learn more and apply, or text ‘worksforme’ to 36453 to start an application via text.”

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McDonalds introduces “Round Up” program to support Ronald McDonald Houses

Ronald McDonald House
Ronald McDonald House

In a sign of our cashless times, McDonald’s has introduced a system that allows fast-food customers to make a contribution to Ronald McDonald House Charities with their credit cards by rounding up their food bills.

Similar to grocery store campaigns that support Foodlink by asking shoppers to round up to an even dollar amount and perhaps add a few bucks while they’re at it, the  McDonald’s system will encourage diners to do the same for the McDonald’s charity. It’s called “Round Up for RMHC.”

The money supports the Ronald McDonald House network around the country, including one in Rochester near Golisano Children’s Hospital. These facilities provide families with ill or hospitalized children a place to stay while their children receive care. They get a private bedroom, laundry facilities, home-cooked meals and more.

McDonald’s customers have supported these houses for decades with paper money and coins dropped in collection boxes at the drive-thru windows and counter stations in McDonald’s restaurants. Customers continue to donate that way, the company noted, but donations have declined because fewer people are carrying and paying with cash these days.

The new McDonald’s donation system is available in approximately 14,000 restaurants nationally. It allows people who are paying with a debit or credit card–either with the help of a counter person or through ordering screens in the restaurant–to add a little extra for the charity without having to search for cash.

 To help customers understand how significant even small donations can be, McDonalds has created the “Menu of Moments” indicating how donations of even less than $1 can provide precious minutes for a family to spend together during a child’s illness. Eighty dollars covers the cost of a family staying overnight in a Ronald McDonald House. For 92 cents, a donor can provide a family with time to read a bed-time story to their sick child. Even as little as 21 cents provides five minutes of family time.

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McDonald’s offers larger educational plum to seek new hires

McDonald’s restaurant owners and Rochester City Mayor Lovely A. Warren announced on Thursday morning two new recruitment tools that may help the restaurants hire about 230 new employees this fall.

McDonald’s is expanding its Archways to Opportunities program that supports employees attending college, completing high school diploma requirements, or learning English. At the same time, it has partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons to be able to tap into new hires 50 years and older.

The local announcement was made at the McDonald’s restaurant at Upper Falls Boulevard and North Clinton Avenue, one of the busiest McDonald’s restaurants in the Rochester area.

“This is about much more than jobs; it’s about an opportunity,” Warren said. “That’s life-changing.”

Warren later donned a visor and apron to serve some customers going through the restaurant’s drive-through, which accounts for about three-quarters of that shop’s business.

Archways to Opportunity, launched in 2015, provides $2,500 a year for educational expenses, offers educational advisers, coaches employees trying to earn an online high school diploma, and makes English language classes available.

The company has changed its eligibility requirements so employees can access tuition assistance after just 90 days of employment instead of nine months, and dropped its minimum hourly requirement to 15 hours a week instead of 20.

Susan Garrett, a 20-year-old Monroe Community College student who works at the Baytown McDonald’s in Penfield, said the Archways program helped her pay for tuition and some of her books. She is in her second year of nursing studies at MCC and has worked for McDonald’s for a year, while also working at Wegmans, the city resident said.

Glen Jeter, the owner and operator of the Upper Falls McDonald’s, said he recently approved an application for the first Upper Falls employee to access the program.

At the same time, the McDonald’s corporation recently completed the AARP process required to advertise jobs through that organization’s channels, said Louis Buono, who operates 12 restaurants in the Rochester area. McDonald’s offers work for people who to return to work after retiring, and for those who never retired but want to continue to work into their older years, he said.

Up to 8 percent of his work force of 650 employees fall into the AARP age group, Buono said.

“Some have worked 15 years or more years,” he said. “And a bunch of employees came back and need part-time work.”

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McDonald’s new policy may turn tide on antibiotics in beef

McDonald’s Corp. announced Tuesday that it is instituting new policies to reduce the use of antibiotics in production of beef for hamburgers, a move heralded as a significant sea change in the way beef cattle is raised around the world.

A spokesman for McDonald’s, the United States’ largest buyer of beef, said the corporation will start by working with suppliers in 10 major markets to document information about current antibiotic use in cattle and ways to reduce it, then implement targets for reduction of their use in 2020.  Some estimates say the raising of livestock currently consumes 70 percent of all medically significant antibiotics. Such routine use of antibiotics has created resistance to antibiotics in some diseases, a situation the World Health Organization describes as a global public health crisis.

“McDonald’s believes antibiotic resistance is a critical public health issue, and we take seriously our unique position to use our scale for good to continue to address this challenge. We are excited to partner with our beef supply chain around the world, to accelerate the responsible use of antibiotics, whilst continuing to look after the health and welfare of those animals in our supply chain,” said Keith Kenny, the company’s global vice president for sustainability.

McDonald’s was cited recently among other chain restaurants given a failing grade for antibiotic use in hamburgers by the National Resource Defense Council and other organizations concerned with health and the environment.

Christy Spees, environmental health program manager for As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy group, said on Tuesday, “We expect this to be the first of many commitments from food companies to purchase beef raised without medically important antibiotics; importantly, this means that the beef industry will need to change their practices to meet this growing demand.”

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