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90-year-old McDonald’s franchisee says work, fast food the secret to longevity

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John Jelinek

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — A Missouri man doesn’t let age get in the way of showing up to work every day.

John Jelinek, who turned 90 on Monday, October 31st, claims punching-the-clock for his fountain of youth.

He marked his major milestone by spending the day the same way he spends every other — working at the McDonald’s restaurant he has owned for more than a third of his life.

“I enjoy being here every day,” Jelinek said.

A whole lot has changed since Jelinek bought the McDonald’s at West 38th Street and Broadway Boulevard in Kansas City back in 1982. There’s now a drive-thru, and the menu options have grown immensely.

However, one thing hasn’t changed: John’s effort to make the restaurant the friendliest McDonald’s in the metro.

“Every day they see him here — Monday through Friday,” shift manager Rosalinda Santiago said.

Jelinek considers his restaurant his fountain of youth. And yes, he eats McDonald’s every day.

“I have a salad every day, apple slices, chocolate milk,” he said.

And, on occasion, he splurges on his favorite, a Quarter Pounder with cheese.

Guests will often find Jelinek sitting in the lobby greeting customers for the lunch hour. He says it gives him purpose.

“If I do all these things I do, that’s freedom … liking what I do is happiness,” he said.

And that happiness is infectious. Even former employees came to celebrate his birthday with him. Happy birthday, John.