Lee Ann and Conrad Freeman have opened the doors for job interviews to the 18 McDonald's they operate in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.
"We're looking for friendly, energetic people with good smiles. We do all the training," Lee Ann Freeman said.
Unlike other businesses, fast food restaurants are short-staffed.
"We're providing what people seem to want, and that is good food at a low price, and we need people to serve it," McDonald's operator Conrad Freeman said.
McDonald's has 1,000 openings in the Bay Area, and the Freemans alone would like to hire at least 180 people today.
The openings are a result of a boom in business as the recession prompts consumers to switch to value-priced dining. Fast food restaurants need more counter people and cooks to keep up with demand. The jobs pay minimum wage. Workers will put in 20 or fewer hours a week.
"I've been collecting unemployment for over a year, and I'm getting very tired of it," East Palo Alto resident Dina Boyer said.
Nine people applied in the first hour at a McDonald's in Palo Alto, and there was a long line at a McDonald's in El Cerrito.
Serena Lopez has worked as a bartender and as an Avon representative, but she needs a job.
"My husband works for VTA. He makes very good money, but we are having trouble making the rent, so I have to work at McDonald's. Hopefully get this job to help pay the bills," she said.
In Santa Clara County, 55,000 people work at fast food restaurants. The number hit a peak of 58,000 two years ago, so that's a loss of 3,000 jobs. When there are job openings, it's an employer's market, so pay tends to be minimum wage.
Janice Shriver, labor market specialist at the state's Employment Development Department office in Campbell, says there are 1,127 fast food restaurants in Santa Clara County.
Altogether, they employ about 17,000 people at an average weekly wage of $326. For many of them, it is an entry-level job. However, the Freemans point out that some workers stay and move up into supervisory and management positions.
Applicants filled out paperwork, sat through interviews with managers and in some cases they got hired on-the-spot.
"I got hired. It's my personality, I know it," Lopez said.
There were also long lines of applicants at McDonald's in Newark, Hayward, Pleasanton, El Cerrito, Pleasant Hill and Antioch.