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Alumna Ashley Lamothe Serves Up Positive Influence

November 2018

ashley lamothAshley Lamothe, C’2006, the owner of a thriving Chick-fil-A restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, understands the power of positive influence.

It was an influential conversation with the owner of the Chick-fil-A restaurant where she worked while attending Spelman College that first opened her eyes to the possibilities of entrepreneurship.

“When I was 15, I started working at a Chick-fil-A near my home to earn money for a car,” said Lamothe, 33, a native of Marietta, Georgia. “But, I ended up really loving the company, so when I came to Spelman, I worked all four years at a Chick-fil-A near campus.”

Lamothe, who dreamed of a career in theater, quickly moved up the ranks at the Northside Parkway restaurant — from team member, to supervisor, to assistant manager. Then one day, owner Jason Bilotti told her he had noticed her skill and enjoyment in leading people and asked if she might be interested in making an even greater impact as a Chick-fil-A franchisee.

“I liked working with my team — setting goals and celebrating with them when we achieved those goals — but I had never thought about being a franchisee,” said Lamothe. “I never saw myself doing that until Jason said it.”

What Bilotti saw in Lamothe was someone who had the potential to excel at a company that sets extremely high standards for its restaurant owners.

“She was a leader — meaning that people wanted to follow her — and she loved and believed in the brand,” said Bilotti, who owns two Chick-fil-A restaurants in metropolitan Atlanta. “The company values results and relationships. Some of our leaders are stronger in one than the other. Ashley is strong in both.”

Inspired to pursue a new career path, Lamothe changed her major from theater to economics. After graduating from Spelman, she applied and was accepted into Chick-fil-A’s franchisee development program.

In 2011, Lamothe became the owner of a Chick-fil-A restaurant across the street from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles — making her, at the time, the company’s youngest African-American female franchisee.

This past April, Lamothe transferred to a new Chickfil-A restaurant in downtown LA — a location she wanted because of her “heart and passion” for that neighborhood. She oversaw the opening of the restaurant, where she leads a team of 70-80 people, mostly high school and college students.

“When I think about what I do, I’m not in the chicken business, I’m in the people business,” she said. “I know the power of influence and how being in a positive environment helped shape the kind of leader I am today. So, I work to create an environment where people are well taken care of in terms of pay and benefits — and where they are encouraged to pursue their dreams.”

Lamothe’s commitment to her team and restaurant earned her a place in Chick-fil-A’s 2016 Champion’s Club, which honors franchisees who demonstrate outstanding performance in both sales and profitability.

“The business is 24/7, even though we are not open 24/7,” she said. “Mentally, I am always thinking about the business, on the business, and for the business.”

Still, Lamothe manages to carve out time to be active in the community. She volunteers with the Spelman Alumnae Chapter in Los Angeles, and Hollywood Young Life, a Christian discipleship organization for teens.

“I learned about the importance of service at Spelman,” said Lamothe. “I also learned about myself. I had four years to reflect on who I am and work through the type of person I want to be. It wasn’t until I got to Spelman — with people who look like me, who challenged me — that I learned to be my best self.”

Lamothe’s best is still unfolding. After a year of being in the news and social media spotlight surrounding the opening of the new restaurant, she is carefully considering her future.

“I see myself being able to influence on a larger scale,” said Lamothe, who is expecting her first child in the fall. “I will always do what I do with the restaurant, but I want to explore how to reach more people, to expand my platform. I see an opportunity to share my story and values, and how I have been successful.”

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