• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Graviss selling his McDonald’s locations


JOE GRAVISS, right, with Kenny Smith of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce two years ago, said while he’s selling his nine McDonald’s restaurants, he’s not retiring from life. Many expect Graviss, 55, to run for the seat of state Rep. James Kay if Kay chooses to run for Woodford Judge-Executive next fall. Monday, Judge-Executive John Coyle told The Sun that he won’t run for reelection. (Photo by John McGary)

Joe Graviss said for years, he and his wife had casually discussed the possibility of him retiring from his position as owner of Graviss McDonald’s restaurants. One day about six months ago, they talked more seriously about the move, Graviss said. “The very next morning, after we decided to look into how to go about doing it … my accountant called me and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you’re thinking about this or not, but just in case, I wanted to let you know I had a McDonald’s operator I do the books (for) call me and (ask) if he knows of anybody wanting to sell their stores …’” Graviss said. “And I was like, ‘You are kidding me. Debbie and I were just talking last night about selling our stores.’” Graviss, 55, said he and Debbie took the call as a sign of “divine intervention and a big-time reassurance … from upstairs to go ahead, and it’s the right thing to do. …” Graviss owns nine McDonald’s restaurants in Central Kentucky, including the Versailles store on United Drive. He said the stores in the process of being sold to Gist Heinrich of Lexington and Heinrich’s stepfather, who already own 14 McDonald’s restaurants, and that McDonald’s corporate brass have approved the deal. Graviss said he hoped to make the deal final on Wednesday, Nov. 1, with an “electronic closing,” thus preventing him from using the special pen he employs for such purposes. Graviss said 647 of the approximately 650 people he employs at his nine stores and headquarters will keep their jobs. The positions of the other three would be duplicative in Heinrich’s organization, he said. The Sun asked about discussion in the community involving him running for the seat presently held by state Rep. James Kay, which would open if Woodford Judge-Executive John Coyle steps down and Kay runs for that job. Graviss politely refused to comment on the matter. Coyle won’t seek reelection At least one of those dominoes has fallen. Coyle has made no public announcement about his plans, but Monday, he told The Sun that he would not run for reelection next fall. Coyle said after 33 years of county service, including three four-year terms as sheriff and three as judge-executive, he’d like to spend more time with his wife, his three granddaughters and his garden. “The people of Woodford County have been extremely good to me,” said Coyle. Kay’s plans Kay, 34, has represented Kentucky’s 56th state legislative district, which includes all of Woodford and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties, since 2013. In an email, Kay wrote, “My focus right now is working on pensions, not on campaigns or elections. My family and I look forward to announcing our plans in the near future.” Graviss’s plans Graviss said while he won’t be running nine McDonald’s anymore, he’ll keep busy. “I am fully committed to Woodford County, Kentucky, community service, giving back, helping, and I am not retiring from life. I am entering a full-time service type of role that won’t have the distractions of nine McDonald’s restaurants,” he said. Graviss McDonald’s has been a generous contributor to a wide variety of area charities, non-profits and others. “It was a privilege and a joy to work with our staff and customers and community. We basically never said no to a request from help, whether it was just milk and cookies for kids at Christmas to thousands of dollars for an … organization like the Food Pantry or Humane Society,” Graviss said. “I hope to still be able to give back to my communities with time and talent. I just won’t have as much treasure.”

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