Matt Young is taking over the Kimball Junction McDonald's restaurant from his father Mark, making him one of the youngest owner/operators of a franchise in the country at 27.

Matt is a veteran McDonald's manager, however. His parents purchased the franchise when Matt was a baby and he and his siblings grew up in the restaurant.

From a young age, he and a sister would stand on a milk crate to help hand out Happy Meals at the drive-through window. As soon as he was old enough, he became an official employee and has been working in the family restaurant, or another one, ever since.

While pursuing a business degree at Westminster College paid for by his restaurant wages he simultaneously completed several courses at the McDonald's corporate training program "Hamburger University" in Illinois.

The timing of the transfer of ownership was prompted by Mark's desire to serve an LDS mission to Oregon with his wife Sue. But McDonald's is in full support, Mark said.

"A high priority for the corporation is to train the second-generation candidates. About 25 percent of owners are second generation," he explained.

Mark said he and Sue have run the restaurant for 26 years and it's time in their lives to do something different. They were one of the first restaurants at Kimball Junction and one of only three or four businesses there in the mid-1980s.

The corporation chose the location, but the Youngs raised their family in Park City and only moved to the Salt Lake Valley a few years ago, he said. Although he attended high school in the valley, Matt said he considers Park City his hometown and is currently raising his own family in Pinebrook.

Mark said it was never a challenge to get his kids to help out at the restaurant.

"Matt learned to really give the customer what they wanted. It instilled values at a young age," he said.

Matt remembers having about 30 cousins over the years stay with his family during summers and earn money working at the restaurant. Sue did all the business's paperwork from home. It was truly a family business, Mark said.

These positive experiences convinced Matt he wanted a career with the corporation from a young age. He planned out his college courses to prepare him to be an owner/operator someday, he said.

"I love the system, I love the brand; they really take care of their people," he said. "I know I can succeed. I know how to run a restaurant very well. Now I'll be doing more of the back office work the stuff I didn't do as a manager."