AMORY – After cooking in the kitchen during her first run as a Hardee’s employee, Kelly Britnell is finding a better outlet for her positive personality and morning energy at the drive-thru window six days a week.

“I bring it every day. I’m a morning person so I try to wake people up every day with my smile and my energy. Some people can be a little hateful and rude, but you can uplift them by being so nice to them and telling them to have a nice day,” she said. “I’ve got some people who come through and say, ‘I’m sorry for being rude, but you’re doing a good job.’ There are also a lot of people who come through and ask where I’m at when I’m off. They really love me, and I know they do because they’re always asking about me.”

Her job has also allowed for her to be a listening ear.

“I don’t know what makes them tell me their whole story at the drive-thru but I listen and send them off,” Britnell said. “When they tell me they’re going to the hospital to see So-and-So, I tell them I hope everything gets better and we’ll pray for you.”

Britnell worked at Hardee’s for five years before leaving for two years. She returned last year, and it’s her first time working the drive-thru window and interacting directly with customers. She is also a shift manager.

“If I had the choice to be in the window or the kitchen, I would say the kitchen since I love cooking. Since I’ve been up here at the front, I’ve been talking to customers and getting to know them and having their meals inside my head before they order because sometimes I know their voices when they come through,” she said.

In addition to bringing morning positivity, she sometimes gives her customers words of wisdom.

People have even left her tips, especially after a trick she played shortly after the pandemic forced the lobby to temporarily close.

“I told my co-workers, ‘Guess what? I’m going to make them laugh at me today in the drive-thru.’ So I got a piece of paper that said ‘Throw me a dollar’ and put it on my back so when I fixed their drink, they could see that. One person said, ‘You know what? I’m going to throw you two since you’ve been so good in this drive-thru,’” she said.

Britnell gets up at 3:15 every morning and shows up at work at 3:45 to set up for the morning. She typically goes to bed by 6 or 6:30 p.m.

While she has worked the night shift, Britnell doesn’t like it as much since it’s a slower pace.

“When people come through, I’ve got to be happy. If I’m not happy, then they’re not happy. If they’re in a bad mood, I can make them happy,” she said.

While Hardee’s lobby was open for four months since the onslaught of the pandemic, it recently shut down again due to lack of customers.

“When they’d come in, if they wanted something special cooked, they’d ask me instead of the back line, and I can do that for them. People ask me, ‘Kelly, can you do my cheese eggs? Kelly, can you do her cheese eggs?,’” she said.

In addition to working at Hardee’s, Britnell has worked at numerous other restaurants in Amory as a cook and waitress throughout the years, in addition to River Place Nursing Center.

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