MANCHESTER, NH – It was a typical Thursday at McDonald’s for a group of regulars, four old friends who’ve been gathering at the Second Street fast-food eatery for years.
Well, typical except for the notable increased police presence, and free-flowing coffee.
“It’s great!, said Bill Kuslaka, who was seated around their “usual table,” along with his uncle, Bob Freeman, and friends, Paul Plante and John Milne.
They were four of the many recipients of free coffee March 5 at McDonald’s, thanks to Manchester Police Department’s Coffee with a Cop program.
Officers from Manchester Police Department’s community policing division have been making the rounds monthly to area restaurants, to connect with residents and offer a cup of goodwill.
It’s all about building relationships, said Manchester Police Lt. Brian O’Keefe, who was greeting customers inside the restaurant, along with Capt. James Soucy, while other officers circulated. Officer Christopher Day was manning the drive-thru window (see video above) and enjoying his first shift, ever, as a fast-food handler.
He was a natural.
“I must have served about 40 people so far,” said Day. It’s a lot of fun.”
Kuslaka said their group of four used to number at least a dozen, but reality of senior life includes the loss of friends as time marches on. Fellow military veterans, they tend to talk about a little bit of everything during the Thursday morning meet-up.
That’s why Lucette Vallee of Manchester, and Shelia Pratt of Bedford, look forward to regular coffee sessions at their Second Street McDonald’s. Old friendships are the best.
They met decades ago when both women worked as housekeepers for the Wayfarer Inn, for years a landmark in New Hampshire, which was recently razed.
“It’s gone now, but we still get together whenever we can,” said Vallee.
The two friends said they were surprised to see so many people when they arrived – the McDonald’s was more crowded than usual – and they were even happier when they scored free coffee.
“I had no idea, but Lucette told me it was free, so I said, why not? I’ll take it. Might as well take it while you can,” Pratt said.
Franchise owner Michael Gambino runs three Manchester McDonald’s restaurants – in addition to Second Street, he also owns the Hanover Street and South Willow Street restaurants. He’s been running the Coffee with a Cop promotion since last summer, and says so far it’s been a great success.
And a lot of fun.
“It’s great seeing the reaction on customers’ faces when they come in and see the police ,” Gambino said. “And then they give them their coffee and everyone gets relaxed and starts talking. I really enjoy seeing the enjoyment for the customers.”