Manager of Palos Hills McDonald's earns one of company's top awards
By Laura Bollin
When patrons visit the McDonald's near 111th Street and Southwest Highway in Palos Hills, they just might have their orders taken by a man recognized as one of the company's top managers in the country.
Doug Kwiatkowski of Crestwood is among 130 recipients of the 2012 Ray Kroc Award, which is given to the top 1 percent of McDonald's managers nationwide. Kwiatkowski was honored at a McDonald's rally held Tuesday in Woodridge.
The award is named after McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, and recognizes managers for hard work and dedication to the restaurant and customers. McDonald's owners, operators and regional staff nominate managers. A committee of employees from McDonald's operations, training and human resources selects the winners.
"I was shocked when I found out I won," Kwiatkowski said. "I was nominated by my supervisor and our business consultant. When they told me they nominated me, I thought, okay, if you think I'm worthy of it, I guess I am; but then I came out on top."
Kwiatkowski will receive an award plaque and has been invited to a banquet, to be held in April in Las Vegas, with the rest of last year's award winners and the president of the McDonald's corporation.
When Kwiatkowski's supervisors learned he had won a Kroc Award, they told him he had to come in to work right away - on his day off.
"They found out, and thought oh, we're going to surprise him, but I was like, I'm gonna kill you guys," Kwiatkowski said. "I thought I would find out at the rally meeting where they do awards and recognition."
Kwiatkowski's first job was at a McDonald's in Crestwood in 1987, and over the following 12 years worked his way up the fast-food giant's chain of command. He was transferred to the Palos Hills restaurant in 1993 and first served as second assistant manager, and has managed the store since 1999.
"I still remember my first day [in Crestwood]," Kwiatkowski said. "The first things I learned were how to toast the buns and how to empty the grease bucket."
The manager position holds a lot of responsibility, he said.
"I ensure the quality, cleanliness, and service of the restaurant," he explained. "I make sure my people take care of every customer that walks in the door, and that service is fast and friendly. I pride myself on our restaurant being one of the friendliest McDonald's around. I also want to help the managers that are beneath me become store managers themselves."
Kwiatkowski's favorite part of his job is interacting with his fellow staff and customers.
"There's a wonderful couple that comes in, at minimum, two times a day, but sometimes it's three times a day," he said. "They've been coming in for at least 15 years. They're an older couple, enjoying their retirement, and every time I see them, I smile. They are such a cute couple."
His favorite menu choices have changed over the years, he acknowledged.
"When I was a kid, it was the chicken nuggets," he said. "Now, my favorite is the sausage McMuffin with egg. I used to have one every morning, but I'm getting to that age where I can't eat anything I want anymore. I just have one once or twice a week."