Ashley Lamothe started working at Chick-Fil-A when she was 15 years old in her hometown of Atlanta so as to save money to buy a car and go to college. The young entrepreneur continued to work at the restaurant chain as a director on the leadership team while at Spelman College.
Lamothe later rose through the ranks to become a franchise owner. She first opened a Chick-Fil-A location in Los Angeles in 2011 at age of 26, making her the youngest franchise owner in Chick-Fil-A history. She opened a second location six years later in downtown Los Angeles.
Lamothe achieved success through hard work. She recalls balancing her entrepreneurial journey with academics. She is grateful to her operator for giving her a flexible schedule that allowed her to school and engage in extracurricular activities.
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“Chick-Fil-A has been part of my life,” Lamothe told Rolling Out. She said being a franchise owner does not make her feel she is making history. “That said, it’s really cool that so many people have been inspired by my journey and that feels like a huge honor,” she said.
In college, Lamothe changed her major to economics as her aim was to own a Chick-Fil-A restaurant. The course change was to afford her the opportunity to know how the market plays out and have a fair understanding of economic fundamentals.
When she launched her second Chick-Fil-A restaurant in 2018, Lamothe felt great that everything she labored for was yielding fruit. “I love the diversity of downtown LA; there is something for everyone. I’m excited to bring the unique hospitality that we offer in a fast, casual environment,” she said.
The young entrepreneur said in an interview after the launch that she is motivated by the fact that she has 85 people on her payroll. “The responsibility I owe to them to help them reach their goals and dreams keeps me motivated,” she said.
Every successful entrepreneur goes through a period of challenges. Lamothe is quite familiar with this as an entrepreneur. Recruiting, hiring and retention have been really challenging, nonetheless, she believes building a culture inside the restaurant has helped her to keep a consistent, happy and engaged staff.
For others who aspire to be franchise owners, Lamothe said the first thing to do is to gain experience at a local restaurant. “A lot of people say they want to own a franchise but have never worked in a restaurant. It’s hard, hands-on work and you really have to know what you are getting into,” she said.