ROBERTS, NARLIE (14 April 1931-18 Dec. 1987) prominent businessman who purchased the first black-owned McDonald's franchise in Cleveland. He was born in Allendale, South Carolina, the son of George and Mary Goodman Roberts. Roberts, who came to Cleveland in 1952, organized the R & B Lath and Plastering Co. in partnership with his brother-in-law, Eugene Bush, and the business prospered.
Picketing for a black-owned McDonalds franchise by a coalition of civil rights groups in 1970 gave Roberts the opportunity to establish a McDonalds restaurant at 13705 Euclid Ave. in EAST CLEVELAND. By the end of 1972 he had sold his interest in R & B in order to increase his fast-food business and eventually operated seven McDonald's restaurants through his Royal Ridge Management Co., which grossed over $10 million annually.
Expanding into the motel business, Roberts bought the North Shore Inn located at I-90 and Euclid Ave., refurbished it, and obtained a Best Western Franchise in September, 1987. Instrumental in paving the way for blacks, he also invested in minority-owned businesses such as The Advertising Connection, a full-service ad agency, and Capital for Minority Business Enterprises, Inc. and established the Royal Ridge Foundation, which provided scholarships and support for educational institutions.
Roberts married Ann Bush 30 April 1951. He died at his Best Western Motel in EUCLID, Ohio, and was interred at Evergreen Cemetery at BEDFORD HTS. His wife and five children, Yvonne, Michael, Turan, Julie, and Mary survived.