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Local McDonald's manager is among the best in U.S.

Diane Lee, who operates the Wadena McDonald's, was recently awarded the Ray Kroc Award. It recognizes the top one percent of operators for all the McDonald's locations in the country -- approximately 14,000 restaurants.

Amid thousands of golden arches across the country, the ones Diane Lee stands under shine a little bit more than the rest.

Lee, who operates the Wadena McDonald’s, was recently given the Ray Kroc Award, whose honorees comprise the top one percent of all operators of all the 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the nation.

She said she had been nominated for the past four years, so she was “shocked” when she actually won the award this year.

Lee lives with her husband and two children in Clarissa, but has worked at the Wadena McDonald’s in various capacities for 15 years. Lee started when she needed money to buy a car in high school and she’s been moving up the chain of command ever since. She said she’d eventually like to own her own franchise.

She described a typical day in one word: “crazy”. She often works 12 and 13 hour-days.

The overall atmosphere has stayed the same over the years, however -- and Lee said that’s a plus.  

“Every day still feels like my first day,” she said. “I think it’s a good thing... you’re comfortable.”

One of her favorite parts of working there has been getting to know the local regulars that frequent the restaurant. Two such regulars chatting over coffee were quick to sing Lee’s praises as operator.

“I think she’s a heck of a good person,” said Ron Horn from Wadena, who has been a regular during the tenures of several managers in the years he’s been retired. “She does an excellent job in the management department here.”

Daryl Berndt from Bertha also complimented Lee’s character.

“I think she’s a good lady,” he said simply.