Mary Allen was 16 when she started working at McDonald’s in Lake Worth.
“I worked a few weekends like every kid does,” says Allen. “I worked my way up.”
Now, Allen, a 59-year-old mother of one son, two daughters and two grandkids in Palm Springs, is a general manager at McDonald’s at Nassau Square, west of Lake Worth.
“I’ve been in a lot of different McDonald’s — 15,” Allen says. “This one has been over a year. I’m a people person. I have to have people around me.”
There’s something else Allen will have near her — a Ray Kroc Award.
The accolade recognizes the top performing McDonald’s restaurant managers around the world. Allen was one of just 340 managers from 60 markets to receive the honor, which includes a cash prize and a trophy. McDonald’s independent franchises and regional management nominate managers for the award to recognize their hard work, dedication and commitment to McDonald’s and their customers.
Allen, who has worked at McDonald’s for 33 years, will be awarded the prize on April 18 at the Ray Kroc Awards Gala in Orlando.
“This hasn’t even sunk in yet,” Allen says. “You can never imagine. When they told me in October that I was nominated, it was mind-boggling. I was like, ‘nominated for what? What are y’all doing to me?’”
Ricky Wade owns the Nassau Square McDonald’s along with 24 other restaurants. He said he wasn’t surprised at Allen’s good fortune.
“She’s a very, very special person,” Wade says. “The thing that makes me so proud of Mary is her attitude toward developing and taking care of other people. She’s always seeks to find the best in people and is always looking to help people grow.”
For instance, Wade said Allen took five schoolkids and helped them to become trainers and supervisors at McDonald’s.
“Tyler graduated from high school and he’s one of our managers now,” Wade says. “He was originally a little immature and didn’t know what he wanted to do (but with Allen’s help) he said I want to come back here and work for you.”
Wade also said Allen has grown the McDonald’s she manages.
“Sales in 2017 were better than 2016 by double digits,” Wade said. “She does school nights, she gets out into the neighborhoods. People have been giving me compliments about the restaurant all the time.”
Allen says her children, James, 38, Jennifer, 28, and Jessica, 26 are especially proud of her.
“This isn’t a common thing,” she says. “I was a single parent, raising them while working at McDonald’s they said, ‘All you’ve done is paying off.’”
As a crew person, Allen was responsible for cleaning the restaurant. Now she’s responsible for all of it — hiring, training, etc.
“Basically, a 10-hour day is busy all day long,” Allen says.