by Dennis Dalman
A happy series of coincidences convinced Joseph and Valerie Silva they’d made the right choice when they decided to move from Chicago to central Minnesota.
The Silvas are the owners of the new McDonald’s restaurant in St. Joseph. They also own two McDonald’s in Waite Park and one in Avon.
Although the St. Joseph McDonald’s opened Dec. 31, there will be a grand opening Tuesday, Jan. 29 during which a portion of all sales will go to the Brian Klinefelter Foundation. The fundraiser is a tribute to one of the coincidences. Joseph Silva was for many years a police officer in Chicago, where he and Valerie grew up. One of the first people the Silvas met in the St. Cloud area is Wendy Tragiai, the widow of Brian Klinefelter, a St. Joseph police officer shot to death during a traffic stop on Jan. 29, 1996. Helping a foundation like the Brian Klinefelter Foundation was exactly what the Silvas had in mind when they moved to Minnesota.
Eerily enough, their new McDonald’s is just a stone’s throw away from where Klinefelter was killed on that cold January night.
The Silvas have a soft spot in their hearts for police officers because they know the stresses, strains and dangers of the job. Joseph’s father was the Cook County Sheriff in Chicago for many years, and he has many cousins who are officers.
Valerie worked at a McDonald’s in Chicago for 20 years. She and Joseph decided it was time for a change. He quit police work and both became McDonald’s owners. Then they began pondering a chance to relocate. They had three requirements that had to be met before moving to a new place:
1. A good school system.
2. A good medical system, partly because their eldest daughter suffers from severe asthma.
3. A good, safe, family-oriented place to raise their two children.
Valerie had told McDonald’s personnel she would move in one direction and one direction only – south. She had become weary of Chicago’s sometimes bitterly cold winters. When she heard about opportunities in central Minnesota, she balked at the idea of living in sub-zero arctic winters. But her associates kept reminding her, practically nagging her, “Valerie, you have to admit it does fit all of your three requirements,” they would tell her. And, well, she had to agree with them.
So, after all was said and done, she and Joseph decided to give it a try and moved here five years ago. They haven’t been sorry, not even for a minute.
“It’s cold here, but it’s safe,” Valerie said. “We’re happy to be here. Everybody is so nice.”
Valerie is convinced all of the coincidences are mysterious reminders of how the greater St. Cloud area was “meant” for her family.
“Joseph” is her husband’s name and the name of the city where their new McDonald’s is located.
When the land for the restaurant was purchased, the McDonald’s official who signed off on the deal originated from Chicago, the Silvas’ home town.
The Silvas admittedly are big-city Chicago city-slickers a bit green behind the ears; they don’t yet fully understand the rough-and-tumble ways of the Northland.
“Some guys want my husband to learn how to hunt,” Valerie said, laughing. “He always tells them the only thing he ever hunted in Chicago was criminals and then tells them he’s done with that now.”
The Silvas have two daughters – Sydney, 8; and Savanna, 6.
“We are all so happy to be here,” Valerie said. “And we are especially happy we were able to fill a community need in St. Joseph. Now residents have another choice for breakfast, dinner and supper without having to drive to St. Cloud. The college students should find the restaurant convenient too. We knew there was a need for a McDonald’s here. It’s a good location. We came at the right time, to the right place.”
The St. Joseph McDonald’s is located at 1180 Elm St. E. near Coborn’s and the Central Minnesota Credit Union. It currently employs 30 workers, but there will soon be a need for 55 workers, both full- and part-time.
The restaurant features a modern and comfortable seating area, with five booths and other seating options. The inside menu board is entirely digital, featuring high-definition photos of the menu offerings. There is also a digitized order screen so when a customer’s order is ready, the receipt number lights up on the big screen.
“The restaurant is the latest and greatest,” Valerie said.
McDonald’s hours in St. Joseph are 5 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; and 5 a.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.