I have been in the restaurant industry for almost 30 years and for the last 10 years I have been lucky enough to have been part of the chain restaurant industry. I was searching Facebook for a group that I could join to be with others in my industry and I was amazed at what came up in my search. Group after group of how much chain restaurants suck or ban chain restaurants in town after town. Why do people hate chain restaurants so much? The answer is three fold. First, most of the time when a chain restaurant is in the news it is not a flattering story. Second, people have never been able to take a peak behind the curtain to see how chain restaurants really run. Third, people tend to view chain restaurants as big, bad corporate America. Today I intend to take you the reader inside the chain restaurant industry in hopes to showcase a more accurate representation of our industry.
- Myth: The chain restaurant industry doesn’t pay well and is a dead end job. Most people see the workers at McDonalds on TV marching for $15 and claiming that the restaurant industry cannot pay a living wage. The fact of the matter is that most restaurant jobs start out as entry level positions and as such they pay a “training” wage. There is no college tuition due for learning how to work at a restaurant. Most workers in a chain restaurant setting make way more money than working in a non chain restaurant. When I worked for non chain restaurants I was always paid minimum wage with no set path for advancement. In the chain restaurant industry there are programs in place to get raises and move up the ladder constantly because they are always opening more restaurants. At the three restaurants I operate, most team members start at minimum wage but our average team member makes 20% more per hour than minimum wage and many get promoted to management. Most managers in a chain restaurant make an equal or higher salary than a lot of jobs people land with a college degree. My biggest frustration is for those that say the chain restaurant is a dead end job. The chain restaurant industry is one of the few industries left where the American dream is still alive and well. Over the past 10 years I have gone from near bankruptcy to being a part owner of three chain restaurants with a comfortable six figure annual income. My story is not unique. I have met so many chain restaurant owners that started off as a team member or manager and are now a partner and can say they own their own business. The best part is that there is no college degree or student loan debt required. All it takes to succeed in the chain restaurant industry is hard work, grit and a willingness to serve others.
- Myth: Chain restaurants are part of big, bad corporate America. “Shop Local” As mentioned before, I am a part owner of three chain restaurants. What??? That’s right; most chain restaurants are franchised and most owners live within 30 minutes to an hour of their store. That means that by eating at most chain restaurants you are shopping local. Every year each one of my restaurants generate well over $200,000 in city, county and state taxes. Talk about a windfall for local budgets! All of my team members are local which means that they in turn go out and spend their money in the community. Chain restaurants put food on the tables of many of your neighbors. Most people think that every chain restaurant is one large corporate entity sending profits over seas. This couldn’t be further from the truth. For all chain restaurants there is a corporate office somewhere that gets paid royalties but each one of my restaurants is its own business entity registered in the state where I live. Every penny of state tax that I pay gets paid to state where I live. Every penny of sales tax goes right to your local school district and your local first responders.
- Myth: Chain restaurants don’t give back to their local community. This is an area where I wish the media would give the chain restaurant industry its due. Almost every chain restaurant in America has a local store marketing budget where we give back to our local communities. Almost every restaurant night fundraiser at your school takes place a chain restaurant. When I worked for non chain restaurants and people asked for a donation of some kind, the answer was “no” every time. In a chain restaurant, there is usually one person that has the role of local store marketing in their job description. Our goal is that a community group never leaves empty handed. In the past year alone in my three locations, I have donated more than 50,000 certificates for free food and thousands of dollars in fundraising checks. If you search the internet you will find story after story about how the chain restaurants give back to their communities on a daily basis. The sad fact is that this type of news feels good and often times is never reported.
- Myth: Chain restaurants are not safe to eat at. If you want to make headlines, print a story about how a certain number of people got sick at a chain restaurant. This type of media will go viral. The fact is that, yes, there have been food borne illness outbreaks at chain restaurants, but the real fact is that there are food borne illness outbreaks at every type of restaurant. The headline is a lot juicier if it is a nationally recognized chain. From my own experience, I cannot believe how much safer it is to eat at a chain restaurant than it is to eat at an independent restaurant. Ever watch the show called “Kitchen Nightmares”? I can attest from my experiences of working at independent restaurants that what you see on that show is common. We never had use by dates quality control standards. The first day I was part of a chain restaurant I was amazed to see the high level of sanitation and quality standards that exist. Every item has a shelf life or a use by date. The amount of safe to eat food that gets put in the trash or donated to a food pantry is incredible. In my restaurant it is brand standard to take temperatures on the food we serve at least three times per day. I don’t even recall a thermometer at one of the diners I worked at when I was younger. In 2016 Fox Business published a report that estimates that over 50 million people eat at a chain restaurant every day. I compare the food safety at chain restaurants to the safety of airline travel. It is much safer than driving a car but car accidents do not get reported with the vigor that an airline crash would.
- I hope you have enjoyed an inside look at the chain restaurant industry and have a new appreciation for all of the good that the chain restaurant industry does day in and day out in our local communities. We are a local restaurant that operates with an amazing set of operating systems and quality control checks to serve our local communities at the highest level.
- Please leave your success story in the comment section below!