When McDonald’s West manager Anthony Muniz recently learned he’d made the nation’s top list of McDonald’s managers for 2011, his reaction was characteristic – calm, cool and collected.
His boss, Joe Graviss, who owns and operates Frankfort’s two locations as well as six others in the area, called him one morning with the good news.
“I was really grateful and thankful and appreciative of the recognition,” Muniz said about the Ray Kroc Award given to the top 1 percent of managers in the nation.
“It makes me thankful for the people around me and what they bring to the table.”
His boss gives the award some perspective.
“It’s huge in the McDonald’s system,” Graviss said. “It’s a very, very prestigious award that’s very difficult to get.”
Muniz, 39, has earned it twice. He also won in 2003.
“I’ve never seen it happen before,” said Graviss, who first hired Muniz 22 years ago. “I’m sure it’s been done, but I haven’t seen it.”
Winning the award in 2003 was a big surprise, Muniz said. But this year, he was actually expecting it. His location hit a milestone never reached by a McDonald’s in his region, which includes more than 700 restaurants in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
On Dec. 29, 2011, his McDonald’s served its one-millionth customer that year.
“We’re competing with places like Columbus,” Muniz said. “I do find it amazing that here in the little town of Frankfort, Kentucky, we’re this McDonald’s just doing our thing in a little, bitty city, and it just happened out in this neck of the woods.”
The morning of Dec. 29 – keep in mind that Muniz had been aiming for the one million mark since about March – he knew his team had to do 914 transactions to reach the goal.
“I kept checking,” Muniz said. Graviss was there because he wanted to hand the order to the one-millionth customer and personally thank Muniz and his staff.
“I saw it get within 30, within 12, then I started counting and got it within 5,” Muniz said.
But Frankfort will never know just who that one-millionth customer is.
“We had too many transactions going on that morning to narrow it down to just one,” Muniz said.
So, the team celebrated together. Both Muniz and Graviss said they were grateful to their customers and the employees who made the goal possible.
“The average McDonald’s in the U.S. does 480,000 transactions a year,” Graviss said. “So, Anthony has more than doubled that, and he did it in an incredible way.”
Graviss is referring to the responsibility Muniz took on when McDonald’s East burned to the ground on Dec. 8, 2010. Within a night, Muniz had to take on about 30 new staff members from the other location as well as hundreds more customers. Graviss decided not to lay anyone off because of the fire, and Muniz helped him keep that promise.
“He did it with a smile on his face,” Graviss said. “He never complained about having to deal with all of those extra people. His attitude was terrific the whole time. He’s such a gentleman, such a professional.”
“It was a difficult year,” Muniz admits. “It really was.”
But he didn’t go through three rounds of Hamburger University – that’s what McDonald’s calls its leadership training school – “for nothing.” Muniz remembered his training, depended on his team and had the opportunity to overcome more obstacles than ever.
The new McDonald’s East opened July 14, and since then, the west side has settled down, but Muniz admits he much prefers things when they’re busy.
A native of Danville, Muniz moved to Frankfort when he was 6. He was a student at Franklin County High School when he started working part-time for Graviss at McDonald’s.
By his senior year, he was working 37½ hours at McDonald’s East as well as attending classes. By 23, he was successful as a store manager. Though he enjoyed his job, he was having trouble with the fact that he was what his friends called a “burger flipper” filling out their orders as they moved on to other careers.
“The stigma with working at McDonald’s was different back then,” Muniz said. “Now the paradigm in society is changing … We’ve heard horror story after horror story in this recession, but I’ve never had to worry about my job, and my employees haven’t either.”
After trying out real estate school and other endeavors for a short stint, Muniz realized he was a McDonald’s man, and his recent award proves it.
“I’m lovin’ it, lovin’ it,” he says pausing a moment to recognize he’s stealing his company’s slogan.
“That has nothing to do with the McDonald’s ‘I’m lovin’ it.’ I really do. It’s the people. I get to make a difference in people’s lives. McDonald’s is just the vehicle to do it.”
Another highlight of his career came this year when he spoke to students at his kids’ school in Shelby County. He and his wife, Melissa, have two children, Zachary, 12, and Haleigh, 10.
“When they asked me to speak at their school, I was just really appreciative,” he said.
Zachary and Haleigh love their dad’s job and would eat at McDonald’s every day if their parents would let them. His kids don’t but he does, Muniz says.
Muniz will be honored with the other Ray Kroc Award winners from across the nation at a special event hosted by McDonald’s USA President Jan Fields in Chicago on April 3-4.