KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Six thousand – that’s how many people McDonald’s restaurants in the region are looking to hire in the next couple of months. As the summer draws near, McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants need to beef up their staff.

Bristol Smith is a crew trainer at the McDonald’s on Northshore in Knoxville.  

“A lot of people see McDonald’s as a steppingstone to get to the next job,” Smith said. “But if you want to make a career out of McD’s and you work hard and apply yourself you can make a career out of it. “ 

Smith says – while it looks like a regular fast-food restaurant on the outside –  And while it might be known for its famous french fries – McDonald’s offers much more to employees.  

“The benefits here are good. They got a 401k plan,” Smith added. 

Smith works for owner-operator Eric Cochran – whose family has nine McDonald’s locations in the area. He says McDonald’s is not the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago.  

“We’ve worked really hard increasing our starting wages to be more competitive,” Cochran said. “We’ve increased our benefits to take care of our people.” 

But, like so many other places – Cochran says it’s been hard to recruit new employees.  

“It’s been really difficult. The labor shortage made it hard to get good people,” Cochran said. 

That’s why his restaurants are offering up much more than a wage.  

“We have paid time off for every employee,” he said. “We have vacation opportunities if you move up into management, we have telehealth for both for regular doctor visits and mental health.” 

Those are the kind of things that brought Smith back to McDonald’s four months ago.  

And the rest of it – he says is just about loving his job.   

“I love working here. I love the people. If you have a job where you don’t like the people, you ain’t going to be there long,” Smith said.  

Included in the 6,000 number – leaders at Knoxville area McDonald’s locations are hoping to hire 430 people. For more information job seekers can visit or

Of course, McDonald’s is not the only fast-food restaurant hiring right now. We looked at posting online and Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Wendy’s and other restaurants all have help wanted signs out right now.