Fast Casual: Female Franchise Leaders Share Lessons Learned On Their Journey to the Top

Heather Rick’s, a McAlister’s Deli® franchisee, offers her tips for women looking to get into business ownership for themselves.

Today, the number of female-owned restaurants has increased by 40 percent in the last decade. And half of all U.S. restaurants are either owned or co-owned by women. According to National Restaurant Association President Dawn Sweeney, these are sure signs that the industry is making headway in closing the gender gap.

Fast Casual recently spoke with a handful of leaders within the restaurant segment to learn about their journey to the top, and the lessons they learned along the way.

Heather Ricks has been a McAlister’s Deli® franchisee since 2010, and she currently owns two units. Her third is slated to open this summer. Her advice to other women? Find your voice, and don’t be afraid to use it.

“Find your voice and use it to ensure that your brand is open and fair to all, and it’s a brand you are proud to be a part of and lead. Being a strong and positive role model for our team, guests and children is as easy as getting out of bed each morning and going to the restaurant or office. It has to be a part of who you are,” Hicks told Fast Casual.

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QSR Magazine: How Homemade Beverages Allow For More Menu Creativity

Brands like McAlister’s Deli® are tapping into the allure of “house-made” beverages with its infamous Sweet Tea offering. 

Nonalcoholic beverage purchases might be on the decline, but many restaurants are realizing the value in offering premium, house-made drinks.

According to a recent article in QSR Magazine, beverages carrying the title “homemade” increased 15 percent on limited-service restaurant menus during the 2 months that ended in November. The growth in these drinks since 2012 is 46 percent.

McAlister’s Deli® has tapped into this niche menu offering with its renowned sweet tea.

“The care we take in sourcing it and the care we take in making it, sweetening it, and holding it in our restaurants is what sets us apart from other brands. We are very dedicated to tea, so we want to make sure that every glass is the perfect glass, and that the last sip is as good as the first,” said Will Eudy, the Corporate Executive Chef for McAlister’s Deli®.

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