Last Mac’s Drive-Thru founding employee retires 

Todd McMillan, Gail McMillan, Glen McMillan, Jon McMillan and Lori McMillan.
Todd McMillan, Gail McMillan, Glen McMillan, Jon McMillan and Lori McMillan.
Photo by Lillian Hamman

Starting around 9 a.m. during the week, a rumbling line of cars wraps around the corner of NW 2nd and 10th Avenues in Gainesville. Locals know it well: The entrance of Mac’s Drive-Thru.  

The rumbling grows louder as the line for fresh burgers grows longer through the lunch hour, then settles down to a constant hum until closing time at 5 p.m. This has been the rhythm on repeat at Mac’s for nearly 40 years. 

“It’s wild—people have their standard, which is what they expect from Mac’s, and they love it,” owner Ron DeFilippo said. “It’s really near and dear to them. Obviously, they’ve just been able to keep that standard the whole time. People come back and they’re very loyal.” 

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Jon McMillan (left) with father and Mac's Drive Thru founder, Glen McMillan, (center) and current Mac's owner Ron DeFilippo at the restaurant on Jon's last day.
Photo by Lillian Hamman Jon McMillan (left) with father and Mac’s Drive-Thru founder, Glen McMillan, (center) and current Mac’s owner Ron DeFilippo at the restaurant on Jon’s last day.

On Friday, June 14, the drive-thru looked the same as it has since Glen McMillan, 89, founded it in 1987: The same drive-up speaker affectionately named “Mikey” taking orders, and the same fishbowl design to give a 360-degree view into the kitchen. 

But one thing was different. A new “Happy Retirement Jon Mac!” banner hung across the red roof for Glen’s son and former Mac’s co-owner Jon McMillan’s last day. After 37 years on the job, Jon’s last day also marked the end of the McMillan family era at Mac’s. 

Last Friday, Jon, 61, took a break from filling orders behind the grill to gather in the back storeroom with friends, coworkers and family. They cracked open cold Natty Daddy beers and passed around chocolate cupcakes to toast Jon’s career, reminisce on Mac’s early days and look forward to the new chapter for the business and family. 

Glen McMillan in an ad for the McMillan family's restaurant The Sandwich Inn when it opened in 1963.
Courtesy of Ron DeFilippo Glen McMillan in an ad for the McMillan family’s restaurant The Sandwich Inn when it opened in 1963.

“I was a little nervous coming in today,” Jon said. “Now I’m glad that it’s over, I’m glad it happened. Customers have been really appreciative. I’m excited for when I go to bed Sunday night and not have to wake up early Monday.”   

Jon first came to Mac’s in 1987 after working at The Sandwich Inn, a restaurant founded by his dad in 1963. Glen knew building Mac’s from the ground up would be financially risky. But he wanted to give his sons a chance to work for him and a place to take over together. Once the business did well enough, Glen’s son Ken joined the Mac’s team. 

“We were surprised at the amount of cars that came through,” Jon said of Mac’s first day of business. “Me and my brother would switch off. He cooked, and I opened in the morning. So it was a long day.” 

Through the years, Ken and Jon learned from Glen working right alongside them how to do everything from taking orders, to frying French fries, to crunching numbers for the business. But working alongside his team flipping burgers on the grill and serving customers has been Jon’s favorite spot. It’s also what he says he’ll miss the most. He even met his wife of 24 years there after she wrote her phone number on a piece of sandwich bag and gave it to him. 

“I just always kind of took pride in the sandwiches going out, so I wanted to work grill,” Jon said. “Plus, I thought I was faster than everybody. But sometimes you think you’re the fastest and you’re not.” 

The location of Mac’s made it challenging in the beginning to attract customers in areas around the UF campus. Slumps in the economy also caused seasons of slower traffic. But even after raising prices over the years, DeFilippo says the hard work ethic and intentionality to serve customers with quality food kept them growing.  

Mac’s has only ever relied on word-of-mouth for advertising, and it is still cheaper than McDonald’s. Today, the drive-thru serves around 1,400 burgers a day.  

Workers grilling burgers in the kitchen at Mac's Drive Thru.
Photo by Lillian Hamman Workers grilling burgers in the kitchen at Mac’s Drive-Thru.

Last year Mac’s made Mainstreet’s list of the best burgers in Gainesville, while Florida Today named it one of the best burger joints in all of Florida. 

“I’ve been in Gainesville a long time,” DeFilippo’s wife Elizabeth said. “But I didn’t realize everybody you talk to says, ‘Did you ever hear of Mac’s?’ ‘Yeah of course I have, I love it!’” 

All of Mac’s sandwich ingredients—lettuce, tomato and onions—are chopped fresh each day. The French fry oil is changed daily, the buns are delivered daily, and the burgers are never frozen. 

Mac’s burgers and sandwiches are made to order just as the customer requests. Mayonnaise on the top bun and mustard on the bottom? No problem. One tomato instead of two, or a sandwich cut in half? Done.  

Jon believes this dedication to respecting the customer is a key ingredient that sets Mac’s apart in the Gainesville community.  

“It’s just the way it should be. They’re spending their money,” Jon said. “We probably shouldn’t do it because it slows things down, but we give it to them.” 

Sighle Williams (left) with Mac's Drive Thru former owner Jon McMillan on McMillan's last day of work.
Photo by Lillian Hamman Sighle Williams (left) with Mac’s Drive-Thru former owner Jon McMillan on McMillan’s last day of work.

Mac’s second-longest working employee behind Jon is Sighle Williams, who is famous for knowing repeat customers’ orders before they give it. Williams will retire in October after also reaching 37 years of service at Mac’s. Until then, she said it’s going to be hard to come back to work without Jon, her “ride or die man,” grilling alongside her. 

“He allowed me to give him a chance, which gave me a chance to do what I do. And I like what I do,” Williams said. 

Jon’s son, Todd, said he’s also been very thankful for how his dad worked long restaurant hours to provide for their family, enabling them to go on vacations and attend college, even when it was challenging not having him home more.  

“He’s been a big blessing to our family,” he said. “One thing I will miss is being able to call [Jon] to skip the line.” 

DeFilippo bought Mac’s Drive Thru in 2021, not long before Jon’s brother Ken passed away. Jon wasn’t looking to sell at the time with his two kids in college, but he said DeFilippo made him “an offer [he] couldn’t refuse.”  

That included allowing Jon to still work the grill for a few more years during the transition. 

“The first couple of weeks it was kind of tough,” Jon said of not having the business in the family anymore. “But after the stress of figuring out I didn’t want it anymore, I did the best I could do trying to hand it off.” 

Back entrance of Mac's Drive Thru on Jon McMillan's last day.
Photo by Lillian Hamman Back entrance of Mac’s Drive-Thru on Jon McMillan’s last day.

DeFilippo hopes to expand the hours at Mac’s current location, as well as open a second. After starting retirement with a vacation and some golf, Jon plans to clean out the garage for his wife and finish projects at his mom and dad’s house down the road.  

While he may not get to make and eat his own burger with lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mayonnaise anymore, Jon is confident the drive-thru’s burgers are still true to what the McMillan family started.  

“I come down here on a weekend and get a burger, and it’s just like I made it,” he said. “I owe it all to my dad. It’s his thing, I just followed through with it…God’s truly blessed me all these years.” 

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Connie Thames

Amazing and wonderful Family ❤️ We will miss them and hope Mac’s stays their way

Jack Eckdahl

We’ve been loyal customers since the first day Macs was serving. We live out of town now, but we don’t go to Gainesville without driving through Macs. Jack and Carol Eckdahl