Brenda Mitchell was 20-years-old when, on whim, she walked into Sarnia’s only McDonald’s restaurant and applied for a job.
“It was on London Road, where the Superstore is now,” recalled Mitchell, 71. “I had a job at a pharmacy in that plaza and went over on my break and applied.”
Her first day was Nov. 21, 1971, and she’s been with the fast food chain ever since.
“Going on 51 years,” said Mitchell, who is Sarnia-born and raised. “I’ll keep working (while) my health is good. It gets me out, keeps me active, and gives me a little extra spending money.”
Patrons can normally find Mitchell at the Christina Street restaurant perched in her favourite spot — the drive-thru window —Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“I check the bags, present them, thank the customers, tell them to come back,” she said. “I love my customers; I know them by name, and they know me by name.”
Over the years Mitchell moved to London, Oshawa, Pickering and Gravenhurst, transferring to different McDonald’s before coming home in the early 1990s.
“I just enjoy working. McDonald’s is my life,” she said with a laugh, though she also loves cooking and a good game of BINGO.
“If I didn’t enjoy it I would have quit a long time ago.”
It helps to have great bosses, she added, referring to long-time owners Colleen and Peter Buckley.
“They’re such awesome people to work for,” said Mitchell, adding communication is the secret to a successful workplace. “That’s the biggest thing — we all work together, everybody gets along and we communicate between employees and management.”
Colleen Buckley confirmed Mitchell is the longest-serving employee in Sarnia.
“I have had the privilege of working shoulder to shoulder with Brenda since 1994, when I was a crew member myself,” said Buckley, whose late father was an owner-operator and a founding board member of the Ronald McDonald House in London.
“Brenda is a treasured part of my McFamily.”