Gwen Bittner / Ciitrus Chronicle
You may not have heard of the Prado Group, but it is a culinary force dedicated to supporting the Citrus County School District.
The Prado family owns and operates several McDonald’s locations in Citrus County, and over the past few years has hosted numerous family night events, giving a percentage of profits to district schools, sports and clubs.
“My parents became operators 25 years ago,” Lecanto and Homosassa location owner-
operator Rachel Millan said. “Ever since we got our first restaurant we’ve always been really involved in the community, with schools, with partnerships. Since the beginning of 2015 we’ve done probably two to three family nights a month.”
The family allocates three hours for each family night and gives 10 to 15 percent of a single McDonald’s location’s profits to district entities.
“I know some schools who have literally packed in a restaurant and have taken in $400 just from a family night,” Millan said. “We do a lot with them over in the Lecanto area. We do a lot with Lecanto Primary, Lecanto Middle, Lecanto High School and CREST.” CREST stands for Citrus Resources for Exceptional Students in Transition.
“We earn about $400 every night there is a family night,” CREST School Principal Lee Mulder said. “They’re happy to do it; we love to go. We appreciate the partnership.”
The CREST School has used family nights to give its playground an extensive makeover with state-of-the-art equipment.
“We have been just steadily adding pieces to the playground that are friendly toward students with abilities and disabilities with different needs,” Mulder said. “We’re focusing on adding lots of different pieces to give students options. For example we have a cozy type of chair that students can get in if they want to seek solitude. We also have an easy glider that works for students that are in wheelchairs. There’s just a lot of different variations in our playground so it’s expensive.”
“It’s important to do whatever we can do to help them,” Millan said.
The Lecanto High School marching band hosts family nights for everyday equipment drives and extracurricular trips. Parent Maurisa Applegate schedules nights for the band and has found the band gathers hype among customers.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for our students, especially like the band students, to showcase for the community all the great things that we’re doing,” Applegate said. “The band students would bring instruments, like the drum line would perform or we’d have some of our sections to perform different music, so the community gets to see that and hear that and know that we’ve got kids that are doing great things. Funds went toward instruments, uniform funds and helping with paying for various festivals that we went to.”
“I know some of them have them for equipment, some have them for trips like the chorus and the bands,” Millan said. “Uniforms and equipment are usually the most that we hear throughout the year.”
Schools, sports and clubs are empowered to schedule four family nights a year at Prado Group McDonald’s locations in Lecanto, Crystal River, and Homosassa. If the school is closer to another location the Prados will work with other operators to facilitate family nights.
“We’ve always been really involved in the community so it’s kind of a no-brainer,” Millan said. “We know how much the community does for us and the schools.”
The group’s events are so popular they are filling up for the next school year.
“We already have people reaching out asking when they can schedule,” Millan said. “We have August, September and October almost already booked. It’s a huge deal because of how well it’s been working out as a community partnership. That’s why the demand is so high.”