Making Valentine's McMemories - WFLA News Channel 8

Making Valentine's McMemories

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

A romantic restaurant, a bottle of wine, maybe even a surprise proposal. These are all images which go hand in hand with Valentine's Day. And sometimes, that includes dinner at an expensive restaurant.

However, the manager of one familiar restaurant wanted to do something different, something which hadn't been done before. So, she ran it up the corporate ladder and the powers that be signed off on it. So, Leiliana Rosario made it happen. With decorating help from co-workers and fellow manager Ernesto Izquardo, the McDonald's at 6717 North Dale Mabry staged the "Make McMemories With Your Special Someone" Valentine's Day candle light dinner. Complete with reserved tables, roses and sit down dinner service, among other amenities.

"It's been incredible", said Izuardo, describing the turnout. "People are excited, they are enthusiastic, they love it, they really do. The outcome was a lot more than we thought we were going to have".

The stars of the evening were Ward and Kathleen Griffin. The couple met at a Largo McDonald's 46 years ago when Ward worked behind the counter and served Kathleen, who stopped to get a hamburger on her way to her job after school. She thought he was cute, but much older because of his five o'clock shadow. But, Ward was only a senior at Largo High School, while Kathleen went to Clearwater Central Catholic.

"She got out of the car, I was working behind the grill and I saw her getting out of the car and I said, she's cute", recalled Ward. "So I told the other guys to get away from the counter and I waited on her and she got burger and a bunch of fries and everything and loaded the bag and so forth. She invited me to come up to Caraville Ice Cream to get an ice cream later on and I never did.

About a month or so after that, we bumped into each other again at a local laundromat and the next thing I know, when we started St. Petersburg College, we ended up having three classes together. It wasn't planned or anything like that, so it was destined to be, so to speak".

"When we got married in 1975, we had a very beautiful reception", said Kathleen. "And I had a friend go to McDonald's and get a quarter pounder with cheese and wrap it up and I gave it to him as his first wedding present".

Another couple with longevity was Larry and Mo Greenwald, who drove 45 minutes from Palm Harbor after reading about the special Valentine's Day event in the local newspaper. Larry typically extends Valentine's Day by buying boxes of children's cards and hiding them all over the house until Mo finds them. So for the Greenwalds, the McDonald's experience was also something different.

"It was a whim", said Larry Greenwald. We thought it'd be fun. it brought back childhood when McDonald's hamburgers were fifteen cents. And the other thing is now she can really say I'm a cheapskate".

Mark and Melissa Radulich have only been married five years. Mark, who is an internet blogger, talked about the concept on his podcast while looking for something for the couple and their three-year-old daughter to do. Melissa's brother works at a high-end Tampa restaurant, but she didn't want any part of fine dining. She had other ideas.

"I'm seven months pregnant. All I ever want are McDonald's french fries and Coke. You've just won my heart forever".

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