Since leaving the job at Mcdonald’s, former CEO Don Thompson been very busy. Thompson has launched an investment group/accelerator named Cleveland Avenue
that focuses on building new food, beverage, and restaurant concepts.
Cleveland Avenue, the name reported as the street that Thompson grew up on, opened its doors last fall in Chicago. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, the company announced the opening of its first restaurant concept, a non-alcoholic beverage bar called Drink.
Drink has partnered with American Outfitters located in New York’s time square serving a rotating list of 20 non-alcoholic beverages made by startups and entrepreneurs, ranging from organic slushies to fresh fruit sodas on tap. Cleveland Avenue has also invested in a Washington, D.C., fast-casual restaurant called HalfSmoke.
Thompson started the company quietly in late 2015, calling on some of his former McDonald’s colleagues to help with the launch. Cleveland Avenue last fall took over a three-story, 33,000-square-foot building at 222 N. Canal St. in the West Loop, an amount of space that perhaps signals big intentions.
Additionally, Thompson’s has also stepped up to give back to the community with the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education, a nonprofit charity led by Thompson’s wife Liz. The foundation sponsors efforts and make grants to organizations offering career support, education, and mentoring to urban students and young professionals of color. This is significant because nowhere is the diversity issue more evident than in the venture capital sphere, which is dominated by white men who fund very few startups founded by women and minorities: African American men receive 2% of the VC funding other startups get, while black women receive almost none