McDonald’s worker stars in local soap

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For 36 years, a Bayside resident has helped foster an atmosphere more similar to the bar in the hit TV show “Cheers” than that of a typical fast food restaurant at a McDonald’s chain store in Little Neck, the store’s owner said.

Margaret Drexler, 59, has been employed by the McDonald’s on Northern Boulevard at Marathon Parkway in Little Neck since 1973, two years after the restaurant opened. Since then she has become a mainstay of the restaurant and — much like the bar in the popular 1980s sitcom — she knows everybody’s name.

“I like the people here,” she said. “The neighborhood has changed a lot, but we’ve always had a nice crew.”

The job has provided the only income for Drexler’s household for a number of years. She said her husband of 34 years currently lives in a nursing home. Customers often specifically choose to eat at the Little Neck McDonald’s chain store to visit Drexler, store owner Maria Sullivan said.

“A lot of people who come in have no family, so this place is like a second home to them,” Sullivan said. “The customers all know Margaret’s name. They come in to see her. She’s very loyal and can be counted on.”

Some customers keep Drexler updated on their children’s lives, illnesses or trips they have taken, Sullivan said. Some former crew members who worked at the restaurant in their youth drop by with their own children to pay Drexler a visit.

“It’s like a soap opera,” Drexler said. “Sometimes, I talk too much. I have the gift of gab.”

A longtime customer from Bellerose recently brought her a bouquet of lilacs after a story about her appeared in the New York Post, Sullivan said.

During her 36 years at the restaurant, she has worked in the kitchen, front counter and drive−thru. She currently works the front register counter, which some customers choose so she can ring them up.

“Margaret is a very special lady,” said Sylvia Weinstein, a Douglaston resident who has been eating at the McDonald’s three to four times per week for more than 10 years. “She sees me coming and opens the door for me. She’ll take my walker for me and carry my tray.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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