Drivers waiting at the stoplight at West 29th and Sisson streets in Remington last month were alerted to the end of an era, transmitted in giant blinking letters on an electronic marquee outside the Burger King drive-thru.


It was a big, loud sendoff for an employee whose quiet kindness and work ethic had made him a blessing to his coworkers and countless Burger King customers over the past several decades: 75-year-old Stan “The Man” Akers.

“That’s my work husband,” said Phyllis Turner, assistant general manager of the Remington location, who worked with Akers for 40 years. “I loved him to death. The man did so much stuff for this company.”

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The Baltimore area is one of the top cities in the country for Burger King, with average sales that are $1 million more per restaurant than the national average, said Luke Andrzejewski, who, with his dad and brother, runs 10 area franchises of the chain.

Longtime employees like Akers and Turner are key to its success. “My general managers — they’ve all been with me an average of 12 or 13 years,” Andrzejewski said. “We got ketchup in our blood.”

Before Burger King, Andrzejewski’s father hired Akers to work at Smorgasbord, a chain of buffet restaurants he ran in the area. Previously, Akers had worked at Gino’s Hamburgers, a fast-food chain started by players for the Baltimore Colts.

But it was Burger King where he remained for 32 years. So what kept him there? “When you find something you love, you work at making it the best you can,” the Dundalk resident said.

Over time, Akers’ role became so multifaceted it was hard to define. At night, he’d inspect the restaurants. During the day, he’d deliver products and check on permits or drop off payroll. Each Sunday, he’d pick up receipts from the various stores and take them to accounting.

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“All those little things add up,” Andrzejewski said.

If one of the restaurants he visited was struggling, he’d drop whatever else he was doing and get cooking. “I’ve made a ton of Whoppers in my life,” Akers said.

“He always wanted everybody to succeed,” said Turner.

When Akers started working at Burger King, you could get a Whopper on sale for 99 cents. Now they’re $7.99 — and you don’t even need to talk to a human to get one. His own order: a burger with double cheese, no pickle, no microwave.

When it was time for him to clock in for one final shift, his coworkers threw him celebrations at each of the 10 restaurants where he worked, from Rosedale to Mondawmin. They bought him a nice watch and had him wear commemorative pins and a beauty queen’s sash that said “Retired.” A fellow Burger King employee dressed in drag and lip-synced Tina Turner’s “The Best.”

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In Remington, they put his name in blinking lights for all the city to see, spreading good will for a man who had been a ray of sunshine in a thousand little ways.

“Fast food is not the sexiest thing,” Andrzejewski said. But with examples like Akers, he tries to convey to employees that an entry-level job at a restaurant can be a path to a car. A house. Or, in Akers’ case, a big chair in a condo in Ocean City, and at last, some well-deserved rest.