Oceanside McDonald’s employee honored for service


Would you be surprised to learn that 1 in 8 Americans have worked at a McDonald’s restaurant at some point in their lives? In an initiative started this past fall, McDonald’s is celebrating that fact by honoring exemplary employees with their “1 in 8” campaign.

On Dec. 5, Arelis Genao of Uniondale was the most recent honoree at the Oceanside McDonald’s on 31-35 Atlantic Ave. Genao, originally from the Dominican Republic, started working at McDonald’s in 1995 in the kitchen, speaking very little English. One day when the store was particularly busy, and having noticed her hard work, her General Manager asked her to help up front in the service area. Since then, Genao has worked her way up to crew trainer, responsible for training both service and kitchen crew, as well as running floor operations.

Lauren Hendel is the daughter of the primary owner of the Oceanside McDonald’s, Paul Hendel, and also works to support the location. Lauren Hendel was herself trained by Genao, and can’t say enough about her positive attitude, knowledge of every aspect of the restaurant, and work ethic.

“She has such a presence about her,” said Lauren. “I can’t tell you how many times I walk into the restaurant and customers will come up to me and tell me they come into this location just to see her. She’s just fantastic, so hardworking, brings a positive attitude every day.”

Hendel spoke a few words about Genao and then introduced Paul Facella, another 1 in 8 member who started his career at the Oceanside McDonald’s in 1966. Facella started in the kitchen and worked his way up through the ranks of management, eventually to regional Vice President of the New York Region. His success is an example of the growth that can be achieved, and opportunities available, from a job at McDonald’s.

Facella echoed Lauren Hendel’s earlier praise of Genao and then presented her with a limited edition “1 in 8” letterman jacket.

What has kept Genao at McDonald’s for 28 years is the feeling that her co-workers are like her family. It was hard for her at first, coming from the Dominican Republic and not speaking much English, but other people in the kitchen were able to translate for her.

Genao says the restaurant is a family-oriented place and she knows the customers. There are a couple of groups of “regulars” that always sit at the same table when they come in. Her favorite part of the job is the cleaning, and taking care of the customers at the front counter, especially the older people because they remind her of her grandparents. She sometimes brings coffee to the table for them and enjoys being a help to them.

Through a translator, Genao said, “The people I work with have been here for years, we all treat each other right. If I come with an issue or a problem, we’re all there to support each other.”

“We just couldn’t think of a person more deserving of this recognition than Arelis,” said Lauren Hendel.