Clinton Lewis began working at the KFC in Spanish Harlem when he was 16 years old. He started off as a cook for the fast-food business, but after a year, Alvin Borrows, a man he would always respect, elevated him to shift manager after taking him under his wing.
His major break came when his hard work and ethical principles enabled him to turn what would have been a chaotic day around. He had no idea Scott Waters, the regional director for KFC at the time, would walk into the restaurant that day.
“I was able to put some people in place making sure we had product available, work well as a team, and coordinate, and continue to make the line move and customers happy,” Lewis shared with Afrotech.
“Customers didn’t notice that we were short-staffed. And who popped in was the regional director at that time, and he was so inspired by the way I handled my shift and how I communicated so well with my team members that he recognized me and said, ‘Clinton, you’re doing such a great job. You know what? I would just like to recognize you. And here goes $100 as a token of appreciation, just for all that you’re doing.’ That acknowledgment and kindness really stood out for me, and that made me want to stay with the company.”
Lewis went on to work eight years as an area manager for KFC, during which time he increased the number of restaurants in New York from 12 to 20. Today, the 44-year-old owns three franchises in Baltimore. He also serves as a board member of the KFC Foundation.
Lewis has also worked as the director of operations for KEDIS Enterprises for 12 years. According to Franchising.com, the 32-unit, multi-brand franchise company employs over 600 people and has annual sales of more than $50 million. In KEDIS Enterprises, Lewis routinely ensures that stores maintain more than 98% passing rates on brand standards evaluations while lowering operational expenses and boosting profit margins.
The outlet also noted that the entrepreneur broke down barriers to become the only non-franchisee nominated for the 2012 and 2022 P.E.T.E. Awards (People Encouraging Talent and Excellence).
Lewis explained that though lack of funds was a problem in the beginning, because of his efforts within the brand, his network, and his leadership, the company recognized his promise and collaborated with him to help him secure the funding required to open a franchise.
He revealed his plans to expand and reinvest in his community. “Reinvesting in the community is by opening more locations in the Baltimore area, which will of course provide jobs, get people motivated,” he detailed.
“Having our KFC Foundation, having team members have access to those educational programs that the KFC Foundation provides, things like that, to get them working and working toward their goal,” he added.