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Fans of McDonald's drive-thru worker feast on positivity and songs

Customers drive out of their way for cheerful meet-ups with Daniel Marshall at the McDonalds in Arden Hills

ARDEN HILLS, Minn. — When people talk about a restaurant's performance, they are generally not referring to the entertainment coming through the drive-thru speaker.

But lunch time is show time at the Arden Hills' McDonald’s.

“BA, DA, BA, DA, DA!” comes a voice from the speaker mimicking a familiar McDonald’s jingle.

Listening from the driver’s seat of his SUV, Mark Lozano busts out laughing. “This guy is great,” he says.

More singing follows, then a polite greeting. 

“Thank you so much for choosing Arden Hills McDonald's,” the voice continues. “My name is Daniel. How are you today?”

22-year-old Daniel Marshall will not only sing your order, if he doesn’t know your name, he’ll give you one.

Credit: Chad Nelson, KARE
Daniel Marshall welcomes a customer to the drive-thru at the Arden Hills, McDonalds.

“What's up Superstar?” he asks a customer.




Daniel hands out monikers like quarter-pounders with cheese.

“He really puts a smile on my face,” a laughing Emily Rabe says from her driver’s seat. “When I’m having a mental breakdown as a student, he really brightens my day.”

Credit: Chad Nelson, KARE
22-year-old Daniel Marshall is a hit with customers at the McDonald’s in Arden Hills, Minnesota.

Daniel spots a convertible pulling up to his window. “Woohoo!” he says to the owner.

Making friends comes as naturally as ketchup goes with fries.

But that’s not the way it's always been for Daniel.

“I was different from a lot of people,” Daniel says.

The teasing started in elementary school, about the time Daniel was diagnosed with autism.

“I was called names, like, I was dumb, I was stupid, I was retarded,” he says.

Daniel's mom, Cheryl Marshall, says the taunting continued after high school, administered by the manager of different burger place where Daniel used to work.

Cheryl says the manager and others at the restaurant found Daniel’s positivity off-putting.

“Every day they would say to him, ‘You just need to quit. Isn't there somewhere else you would like to work,’” Daniel’s mom says.

Credit: Chad Nelson, KARE
Ashley Sicora, manager of the McDonalds in Arden Hills, Minnesota.

But something clicked when Daniel teamed with his McDonald’s manager, Ashley Sicora.

“I understand how he ticks,” Ashley says. “My youngest son is actually autistic as well.”

In Liam – her 10-year-old son – Ashley sees Daniel.

Liam will hyper-focus on things like space and the planets.

“Customer service is that for Daniel,” Ashley says. “Everything he has he puts into that.”

Daniel’s manager isn't the only one who's noticed.

In the year since Daniel came aboard at McDonald’s, customers have sent hundreds of messages complimenting the polite, enthusiastic young man who serves them.

“Daniel is outstanding,” reads one.

“You have found a gem,” says another.  

The messages have garnered the attention of the owner of the Arden Hills, McDonald’s, former Minnesota Viking Tim Baylor.

Credit: Chad Nelson, KARE
Tim Baylor, owner of the Arden Hills, Minnesota McDonalds, in front of his restaurant.

“He literally makes people's day,” Tim says. “Daniel is what you want.”

In recognition of good service, Ashley posted Daniel’s name on the yellow sign beneath the golden arches in front of the restaurant.

“WE ARE LOVING DANIEL!!!!,” read the sign, preceded by Daniel’s signature greeting, “BA, DA, BA, DA, DA.”

Upon seeing it, a surprised Daniel experienced a rare moment of speechless glee, giddily falling backwards onto the sidewalk.

Credit: Ashley Sicora
Workers at the Arden Hills, Minnesota McDonalds salute Daniel Marshall with his signature saying.

“No one quite like Daniel,” the restaurant’s owner says with a smile. He then laughs, and adds, “Anywhere.”

No more teasing. At McDonald’s, Daniel only feels respect.

“It's home,” he says. “It's a brand-new opportunity for me to be somebody in the world.

As Daniel thrives, his mother savors the ride.

“Very proud mom,” Cheryl Marshall says.

Credit: Chad Nelson, KARE
Nicole Rodgerson shares a laugh with drive-thru worker Daniel Marshall at the Arden Hills, Minnesota, McDonalds.

Meantime, another mom watches Daniel and thinks about her son.

“When you see somebody like Daniel,” Ashley Sicora says, “it's just kind of reassuring that it's going to be okay and he'll figure out his own way.”

Hours into his shift, Daniel hasn’t slowed a beat. He sings, he greets, he laughs with one customer after another.  

“BA, DA, BA, DA, DA!”

Daniel Marshall makes every day the performance of his life.  

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