The Ainsworths — Entrepreneurs at Heart
Less than one percent of applicants are accepted to become operators at Chick-fil-A each year. Brittany (Clements) Ainsworth, ’09, was one of them. As the operator of the Chick-fil-A in Palm Beach Gardens Mall, one of the busiest malls in the country, Brittany leads a team of enthusiastic workers who aim to provide the restaurant’s famous second-mile service to their customers.
“I consider my role to be one of support. I equip, encourage, and make sure my team is excited about what they do. I ensure that they have the knowledge and tools to do their jobs well through lots of teaching, development, and training,” said Brittany.
A Love Story that Begins with Chick-fil-A
During her high school years, Brittany worked as a cashier at her local Chick-fil-A, and during college, she continued to work there when she came home during breaks. While at Southeastern, she worked as a cashier in Mi Casa, the campus convenience store, where she and Chad Ainsworth, ’10, often ran into each other.
Brittany and Chad met during their first year at Southeastern in 2008. Brittany was pursuing journalism and public relations, and Chad was studying communications. After often seeing each other in passing, they began spending time together as their friends hosted group viewings of the TV show “Lost” in one of the dorm’s common rooms.
“One of the first times we hung out was when he invited me over to play Guitar Hero during Bauer’s open dorms,” said Brittany. They began dating in March of 2008, and one year later Chad proposed.
After the Ainsworths got married in March of 2011, they moved to the Washington, D.C., area where Brittany found work at Chick-fil-A. This took her back to her high school and college roots. Putting her public relations skills to use, Brittany started a job in the marketing department for the Chick-fil-A in Sterling, Virginia.
“I found that it reinvigorated my love for the company. By working closely with the operator, I learned a lot about the role,” said Brittany.
While Brittany worked at Chick-fil-A, Chad worked as a multimedia production specialist, allowing him to use his creative skills to develop print materials, design layouts, and do photography and videography work. He also continued to pursue photography on the weekends, taking photojournalism assignments with local newspapers, doing sports and wedding photography, and shooting music album covers.
“I discovered that weddings were by far the most lucrative and regular form of work for me, so that’s what I began to focus on,” said Chad. He started to build his wedding photography business in Virginia and found both success and joy in doing work that they were passionate about.
Brittany’s Business and Service Ventures through Chick-fil-A
A year into their marriage, the Ainsworths talked about Brittany becoming an owner/operator for Chick-fil-A. At the beginning of this journey, the Ainsworths moved back to Florida where Brittany worked as a director at a Chick-fil-A store in Stuart.
In the summer of 2014, Brittany was accepted for the corporate-based Chick-fil-A Interim Manager Program. The Ainsworths moved every couple of months as Brittany gained more experience managing multiple Chick-fil-A restaurants that were in between owners.
In the spring of 2016, Brittany was awarded her first ownership of a Chick-fil-A franchise in Midland, Texas. That same year, the Ainsworths began to grow their family when they had their daughter, Claire.
Brittany loves being in a business partnership with Chick-fil-A because she feels that they truly value each owner/operator of every franchise location. She even recalls meeting the CEO, Dan Cathy, and him remembering her name.
“Going into business with Chick-fil-A is very unique in that I really feel like they pay attention to me in my role at my restaurant. Their attention to each store is very concentrated, which is uncommon, especially in the quick-service industry,” said Brittany. In December of 2018, Brittany took over ownership at the Chick-fil-A in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and their family moved from Texas back to Florida.
Operating a Chick-fil-A is more than just hiring employees and selling food. Brittany and her team also work to make a difference in their community.
“We are very involved in the local high schools, and we donate to local auctions and charities. We also host spirit nights when we invite organizations to come, and we donate a percentage of our proceeds from that night to those charities,” said Brittany.
Chad Finds a Creative Outlet through YouTube
As Brittany operated the Chick-fil-A, Chad found a creative outlet in what seemed like an unlikely place. He always enjoyed riding his motorcycle, and he loved the motorcycle culture. On YouTube, he realized that there was a whole community of people calling themselves “moto vloggers” taking GoPro videos of themselves riding motorcycles. He realized there was a gap in the community that he could fill.
He had the knowledge, skills, and equipment to create more cinematic videos of something that a whole community already supports. He watched his channel, “Beachbiker,” quickly grow to 7,000 Subscribers.
For safety purposes, Chad recently shifted the focus of his channel from biking to educational photography and videography content. He has received immense support from his subscribers who want to continue to support him and his vlogs.
“My vlog channel really has roots to my time back in college and my experience with video and film at Southeastern,” said Chad, recalling the videos he made for the Student Body Leadership Council (SBLC) and a Thursday Night Live (TNL) video he made with Rob Shannon, ’11.
“I’m so appreciative of having Brittany as my wife, who understands and cherishes my desire to have a creative outlet. Even though I’m a stay-at-home dad, I never can shake that entrepreneurial mindset. I’m so thankful that she is supportive of me in my creative ventures.”
The Ainsworths currently attend the church that Brittany grew up in, and Chad takes Claire to Chick-fil-A at least once a week to eat lunch and visit Brittany. He always orders a number one chicken sandwich meal with a sweet tea. “Classic, but does the trick every time!” said Chad.
Their story is certainly unique, but they love the work that they do and the flexibility that it gives their family as they raise Claire.
Article by Grace Jicha, SEU Student