JEFFERSON-A few years ago, Hardee’s of Jefferson was on pace to surpass all other restaurants in its chain for total sales volume.
That was before the South Dakota oil boon, which was followed by a modern day Gold Rush and thousands of migrant workers looking to strike it rich in the rapidly expanding industry.
If not for few pesky oil wells, Alicia Roark, general manager for the Jefferson store, would have eclipsed all other competitors.
You don’t have to tell regional manager Bryan Haas how big of a deal that is either.
Hardee’s doesn’t have a nearby Interstate to help drive up its sales volume or even a hungry student population like nearby locations like Boone enjoy.
It’s not the biggest store in the region by any stretch. The restaurant boasts a rather modest kitchen and its dinning area is not the nicest or flashiest, said Haas.
But Hardee’s has something those other stores do not. Hardee’s has a not-so-secret weapon in Roark, who has become synonymous for the company in terms of customer satisfaction.
Haas said he can only imagine what he could do with his other Hardee’s franchises in larger markets, such as the ones he owns in Augusta, Ga.
“The advantages I would have wouldn’t even be fair,” said Haas.
The job seems to come natural to Roark. She rushes around the cramped prep area with a deft hand while seamlessly handing off orders and giving a fresh batch of fries to a customer with a smile. She prides herself in motivating others to do their best. She also hates complacency.
“I like the fast paced feel,” said Roark when asked what she likes best about the job.
When others shine bright, Roark knows she has done her job.
“I’m not a good people person, but I’m good at finding people who are,” she said. “I like it when we feel busy and pushed.”
Roark has been with the company for 35 years. She first started when she was 15 when the store was located in West Jefferson near the First Citizens Bank.
“It’s a good company,” said Roark. “This was my first job. I worked other jobs to suplement it, but this was my favorite…You can’t get bored.”
Roark’s good deeds and hardwork don’t stop in the kitchen. She has most recently made the restaurant’s “Stars for Heroes” campaign her own.
Beginning this week, customers are offered the chance to buy a Hardee’s star to benefit various national and local charities that help combat veterans adjust to everyday life. Roark took that extra step in making the drive a success after a request from her late stepson Lance Roark.
Lance had asked his stepmom to contribute a portion of the proceeds to the “Rangers Lead The Way” outreach.
She gladly obliged. Not long after his request, Lance died in a car crash, but Alicia has continued his legacy by helping out veterans in her own way. Customers, too, took not of the importance of “Stars for Heroes.”
In previous years, the restaurant’s walls, windows and drive-thru were covered with a thin yellow layer of stars. To some, it might seem like quite the undertaking.
But like filling an order or coaching up an employee, it’s all in a day’s work for Roark.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.