Obituary: Jim Delligatti / Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s franchisee who created Big Mac

Rest in Peace Jim Delligatti, a true Deep Creek Lake all-star. His family owns the Honi-Honi Bar, Uno’s, Arrowhead Market and the Garrett 8 movie theatre.

Before it became the single-greatest-selling sandwich in the history of the world; before it became an actual economic index scrutinized by professors and policy-makers; before it became a symbol of the American appetite; even before it became the subject of an unforgettable tongue-twisting advertising jingle, the Big Mac was the product of the ingenuity of a Western Pennsylvanian.

Michael James “Jim” Delligatti, 98, of Fox Chapel died Monday. He really was the local man who made it big — a big sandwich, a big American statement, and a big caloric load (550 calories — including the special sauce — roughly a quarter of the recommended daily allowance, in fact).

Mr. Delligatti also later came up with the concept of breakfast at McDonald’s.

“Jim was a legendary franchisee within McDonald’s system who made a lasting impression on our brand,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “We will remember Jim as an insightful franchisee, a knowledgeable businessman, and an honorable gentleman who left a legacy of four generations of family members running great restaurants in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.”

A native of Uniontown, he was an Army sergeant in the European Theater during World War II. When he returned home, he hitchhiked across the country, from Pittsburgh to California, where he worked at drive-ins and carhops. He eventually brought that experience back to Pittsburgh and, with business partner John Sweeney, in 1953 opened Delney’s — a drive-in on McKnight Road.

In 1955, he traveled to Chicago for a restaurant convention. Fatefully, it was the only year that Ray Kroc and McDonald’s had a booth at the show.

“He thought he could do better with some costs, so he signed up with them to open a franchise in Western Pennsylvania,” his son, Michael Delligatti, said. That first location also opened on McKnight Road, in 1957. In the same kitchen, at age 49, Mr. Delligatti created the signature sandwich that’s left an indelible grease stain on American pop culture and sated billions of hungry bellies the world over.

“He’d opened some restaurants at that point, and he was looking to improve and gain more sales,” his son said. “He wanted to create a larger sandwich that people would really like. He asked McDonald’s and they turned him down several times. Finally, they said OK.

“He was fooling around and came up with the Big Mac. But the buns he had wouldn’t work because the meat would slide around. So he went to a local bakery and got a double cut bun with sesame seeds, which was more visually appealing.”

He spent a few weeks developing the special sauce. “We’re all sworn to secrecy on that,” Michael Delligatti said with a chuckle.

Mr. Delligatti sold the first Big Macs (originally called “The Aristocrat” and the “Blue Ribbon Burger”) for 45 cents in 1967 in his McDonald’s in Uniontown. McDonald’s corporate officials liked it and did a test market in all Pittsburgh-area stores. The product went national a year later and since has reached sales in the tens of billions.

The famous advertising jingle — “twoallbeefpatties …” — was created in 1974 by Keith Reinhard, chairman of the New York ad agency DDB Worldwide.

In 1986, The Economist magazine created “the Big Mac Index” as an informal way to compare foreign currency values against the U.S. dollar. Based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, which says that exchange rates should equalize the price of a purchased item in any two countries, the index uses just one item — a Big Mac — because it is available in more than 100 countries.

Mr. Delligatti would go on to own 48 franchises, and although he sold most of them back to the company in 1982, his family still runs 21 in Western Pennsylvania. Though fast food has been maligned for its association with an unhealthy lifestyle, in 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the Big Mac, Mr. Delligatti told the Post-Gazette that he still ate at least one a week — at age 89.

That year the McDonald’s Big Mac Museum Restaurant opened on Route 30 in North Huntingdon; it features a 14-by-12-foot replica of the burger.

“He was an awesome dad. He liked to do a lot of different things. He was a great pingpong player. He liked to water ski and did some snow skiing. He was a real go-getter,” Mr. Delligatti said of his father, who continued to work regularly well into his 90s.

He was also a philanthropist. In 1979, he, along with Pittsburgh oncologist Vincent Albo and the Pittsburgh Steelers, helped co-found the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh, which provides lodging to the families of seriously ill children undergoing treatment at area hospitals. Today, the house is attached to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in Lawrenceville.

He is survived by his wife, Ellie Delligatti; sons James and Michael; and five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Visitation is from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today and Friday at the Devlin Funeral Home in West View.

The funeral Mass is at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Parish in O’ Hara. Memorial contributions may be made to the Pittsburgh Ronald McDonald House or to Providence Connections, a North Side social services agency.

For more information, click here.

 

 

Southern Garrett students to be featured on Outdoor Channel show

DECATUR, Ala. — Two Garrett County high school students will star on the Outdoor Channel’s “Fishing University.”

Joe McClosky and Trent Lohr, students at Southern Garrett High School, competed with 781 other high school two-student teams from across the U.S. and Canada by posting fishing stories on social media.

Their 1,421 posts put them in the top two to actually film an entire episode with co-hosts and angling legends Charlie Ingram and Ray Brazier. 

The show will be filmed in Ellijay, Georgia, on Carter’s Lake in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Dec. 12-15. The pair will compete against a team from Kentucky for a $10,000 cash college scholarship as well as a $28,000 full four-year tuition scholarship to Bethel University in Tennessee that includes automatic placement on the Bethel University Wildcat bass fishing team. 

McClosky and Lohr, teammates on the Southern Garrett Bass Slayers Team, have loved fishing since they were toddlers. “This is a chance of a lifetime,” said McClosky, “and I think we are ready.”

“Our parents are equally excited,” said Lohr, “and our coach, Bret Winegardner, will be going with us as well. Just to get to fish alongside these two great legends is exciting in itself, but knowing we could win our college tuition fully paid for is unbelievable,” he concluded. 

The show will be seen on the Outdoor Channel three times during the first six months of 2017 and on WFN-World Fishing Network 12 times from July through December.

The show airs in all 50 states and 52 countries. More than 63 million viewers will watch the show during 2017.

For more information and local news, click here.

 

Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County, Maryland Experience Highest Tourism Revenue in State

In the first quarter of fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017), Garrett County experienced the highest increase in the state in tourism sales tax revenues, nearly twice the tourism increases posted by the state of Maryland.  The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce, the designated tourism marketing organization for the county, attributes much of the increase to the Chamber’s aggressive marketing plan with concentrated efforts and new ad strategies.

According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, in the first three months of Fiscal Year 2017 (July, August & September 2016), Maryland grew tourism sales tax revenues 3.0%, while Garrett County grew tourism sales tax revenues 5.8% during the same time period. Maryland grew lodging sales tax code collections 5.5% in the first three months of FY17, while Garrett County grew lodging sales tax collections 7.8%.

Garrett County experienced similar increases in fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016). According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, in fiscal year 2016, Maryland grew tourism sales tax revenues 6.4%, while Garrett County grew tourism sales tax revenues 7.0% during the same time period. Maryland grew lodging sales tax code collections 6.3% in FY16 while Garrett County grew lodging sales tax collections 9%.

“We are very pleased to see a strong first quarter for FY17 as we approach the winter season that is extremely weather dependent,” said Nicole Christian, president & CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. “It is exciting to be leading the state in tourism growth but we are very aware that we have to continue our robust and innovative marketing efforts to remain competitive. We hope the State Office of Tourism will continue their efforts as well and that the Governor will maintain his support of this important industry by increasing tourism promotion funding for the Tourism Development Board.”

2016 has been a record year for tourism in the Deep Creek Lake area and Garrett County, Maryland with a 6.3% increase in county accommodations sales, a 19.3% increase in heads on beds, a 2.3% increase in sales tax collections and a 23% increase in visitors to the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce’s website, visitdeepcreek.com.

 

For more information, click here.

 

INTRODUCING THE LODGE AT WISP

Over $1.5 Million in Renovations launches a Rebranded Hotel As part of a 3 year $3.7 million renovation, Wisp Resort recently announced a rebranding of the Wisp Resort Hotel which will hence forth be known as The Lodge at Wisp. The renovation project on the hotel began in the Fall of 2015 and will continue thru Spring 2018. The Lodge at Wisp will welcome guests with significant changes and improvements to both the interior and exterior of the property. The upgrades are designed to give the hotel guests a heightened resort experience with more contemporary accommodations, new outdoor gathering spaces, and an overall more modern and functional design.

The exterior changes include a new entrance featuring a Porte Cocherè that creates a grand sense of arrival to the resort by welcoming guests with an outdoor gas fireplace, a timber-frame structure with stacked stone façade and thoughtful lighting. The new entrance surroundings are enhanced with landscaping highlighted by a dramatic waterfall, benches and a pergola walkway. The hotel exterior received a fresh coat of paint in a new color palate of earthy tones to match the Porte Cocherè.

Interior renovations include a redesigned and updated Front Desk and Check-in Area to compliment the new entrance. 100 rooms on all six floors in the Tower Section of the hotel have been renovated with freshly painted walls, new wall coverings, artwork featuring local photography, modern bedroom and living area furnishings, plush bed linens, new mattresses as well as upgraded lighting and fixtures. Sixteen new Business Class King Suites have been introduced into the guest room mix. The remaining 69 rooms on three floors in the Lodge Section of the hotel received all new mattresses with plans to complete the renovation of that portion of the rooms by Spring 2018.

Currently in progress at The Lodge at Wisp are upgrades to conference rooms, new audio visual equipment, a new fitness center, exterior signage, courtyards with fire pits and enhanced landscaping features. Construction on the current work will be completed in time for ski season. Work will continue in the spring on an additional courtyard on the east side of the hotel plus renovations to the lobby and a new front porch for the hotel.

for more information, click here.

 

When You Don’t Get the Air Miles You’re Owed

Don Sincell is a fourth-generation newspaper editor in western Maryland. Putting out the paper costs a lot of money, but Don links his business credit card to his airline miles account, which earns him a nice travel perk.

That is, until his airline miles disappeared.

Read Don’s original letter to the ABC News Fixer below, and see how The Fixer helped get his miles back. And check out The Fixer’s tips for earning free travel with credit cards.

Do YOU have a consumer problem? Maybe The Fixer can help! Submit your problems at ABCNews.com/fixer.


Dear ABC News Fixer:

I’m a frequent flyer with American Airlines, and have a business and personal credit card feeding miles into my account.

About nine months ago, I noticed the miles generated by my primary business card were not going into my account. With a couple of phone calls, I learned the problem was not with American Airlines, but with the card issuer.

I have called Barclaycard repeatedly to try to straighten this out. Each time, I am assured that the lost miles — earned from September 2015 through June 2016 — will be restored, but they never are. The total is about 90,000 miles, representing $90,000 spent on that card.

I am at the end of my rope. I have spoken with supervisor after supervisor, to absolutely no avail. I would so appreciate any and all help.

-Don Sincell Mountain Lake Park, Md.

Do you have a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.


Dear Don:

You told the ABC News Fixer that you’re earning all those miles through business expenses for the community newspaper you run: The Republican of Garrett County, Md.

The paper has been in your family since your great-grandfather became editor and publisher in 1890 (the paper was founded in 1877 by Capt. James Hayden, a huge fan of Abraham Lincoln – thus the name “The Republican”).

As the paper’s fourth editor after your great-grandfather, grandfather and father, you’re counted on to cover every aspect of your community – but you said you also find time to be a volunteer firefighter, ski patroller, town council member and a trombone player in the community band.

We can only imagine how badly you must need a vacation.

And those missing miles are worth about three cross-country round trips.

The Fixer had a little better luck nudging this toward resolution.

By the time you wrote your letter, you had managed to get this business credit card connected to your American Airlines account. But even though the customer service representatives told you they could see the missing miles in their computer system, the miles stayed in a black hole.

We contacted Barclaycard and asked them to investigate. Within a few days, they had restored your 94,198 points and posted them to your account. They’re also giving you 20,000 more miles for your troubles.

And they figured out the mystery. Your old business and personal cards, issued by a different bank, originally earned miles on US Airways. US Airways merged with American Airlines in 2015, and you and other cardholders got new AA-branded credit cards. And you got a new issuing bank – Barclaycard.

It seems that somehow in that transition, an error occurred in the data field containing your name.

This wasn’t apparent to the customer service people you spoke to, so while they were promising it would get fixed, they weren’t able to request the right steps to fix it. (And if all this gives you a headache, you’re not alone.)

At any rate, they found it, they fixed it, and you’re good to take another couple trips.

Don Sincell is a fourth-generation newspaper editor in western Maryland. Putting out the paper costs a lot of money, but Don links his business credit card to his airline miles account, which earns him a nice travel perk.

That is, until his airline miles disappeared.

Read Don’s original letter to the ABC News Fixer below, and see how The Fixer helped get his miles back. And check out The Fixer’s tips for earning free travel with credit cards.

Do YOU have a consumer problem? Maybe The Fixer can help! Submit your problems at ABCNews.com/fixer.


Dear ABC News Fixer:

I’m a frequent flyer with American Airlines, and have a business and personal credit card feeding miles into my account.

About nine months ago, I noticed the miles generated by my primary business card were not going into my account. With a couple of phone calls, I learned the problem was not with American Airlines, but with the card issuer.

I have called Barclaycard repeatedly to try to straighten this out. Each time, I am assured that the lost miles — earned from September 2015 through June 2016 — will be restored, but they never are. The total is about 90,000 miles, representing $90,000 spent on that card.

I am at the end of my rope. I have spoken with supervisor after supervisor, to absolutely no avail. I would so appreciate any and all help.

-Don Sincell Mountain Lake Park, Md.

Do you have a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.


Dear Don:

You told the ABC News Fixer that you’re earning all those miles through business expenses for the community newspaper you run: The Republican of Garrett County, Md.

The paper has been in your family since your great-grandfather became editor and publisher in 1890 (the paper was founded in 1877 by Capt. James Hayden, a huge fan of Abraham Lincoln – thus the name “The Republican”).

As the paper’s fourth editor after your great-grandfather, grandfather and father, you’re counted on to cover every aspect of your community – but you said you also find time to be a volunteer firefighter, ski patroller, town council member and a trombone player in the community band.

We can only imagine how badly you must need a vacation.

And those missing miles are worth about three cross-country round trips.

The Fixer had a little better luck nudging this toward resolution.

By the time you wrote your letter, you had managed to get this business credit card connected to your American Airlines account. But even though the customer service representatives told you they could see the missing miles in their computer system, the miles stayed in a black hole.

We contacted Barclaycard and asked them to investigate. Within a few days, they had restored your 94,198 points and posted them to your account. They’re also giving you 20,000 more miles for your troubles.

And they figured out the mystery. Your old business and personal cards, issued by a different bank, originally earned miles on US Airways. US Airways merged with American Airlines in 2015, and you and other cardholders got new AA-branded credit cards. And you got a new issuing bank – Barclaycard.

It seems that somehow in that transition, an error occurred in the data field containing your name.

This wasn’t apparent to the customer service people you spoke to, so while they were promising it would get fixed, they weren’t able to request the right steps to fix it. (And if all this gives you a headache, you’re not alone.)

At any rate, they found it, they fixed it, and you’re good to take another couple trips.

For more information, click here.

 

Garrett County, Maryland Wins at 36th Annual Maryland Travel & Tourism Summit

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce won two awards at the 36th Annual Tourism and Travel Summit held at the Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland last week.

Competing against nominees from other counties in the state, the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce won the Best Media & PR Campaign award from the Maryland Tourism Coalition for our “Military March” promotion. The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce also helped accept the Tourism Advocate award for the Marylanders for a Longer Summer Campaign, a partnership with Ocean City and other state and local leaders.

“The Chamber is honored to accept these two awards on behalf of our partners,” said Nicole Christian, President & CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. “It is particularly gratifying to be recognized by our tourism industry peers at the Maryland Tourism Coalition.”

The Best Media & Public Relations Campaign award is given to a campaign that focuses on a single, unified theme that is related to a special event, crisis management program or overall promotion.  The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce and Wisp Resort initially created the idea several years ago as an opportunity to salute our nation’s military with special discounts in Garrett County, Maryland. In 2016, the Chamber partnered with 28 member businesses participating in the promotion with all of the members offers available on the Chamber’s website, visitdeepcreek.com. GCC Technologies, LLC and Book Mark’et & Antique Mezzanine sponsored “Military March” to cover the cost of advertising the promotion in military outlets with all ads linking to the Chamber’s “Military March” promotion page. The Chamber’s website saw a 43% increase in visitors in March 2016 over March 2015 and, despite Wisp closing early for the ski season on March 15, Garrett County lodging sales collections were up 7.7% in March 2016 over March 2015.

For more information, click here.