Eatery is big on giving back

Chick-fil-A believes in giving back. In fact, since the eatery opened in Aliso Viejo Town Center three years ago, it has donated more than $75,000 worth of food and donations to the community.

"Our vision at our restaurant is to be the "Lighthouse of the Community," said owner Mike Ricks. "We say 'yes' to almost everyone who asks. We have supported all of the local schools, AYSO, AVLL, AVGS, churches, scouts, AVCA and the City of Aliso Viejo. We feel fortunate to be in the position to support a city that has been so supportive and welcoming to us."

Mike recently took time out of his busy schedule to chat about the business.

Q: Why did you choose this city for your restaurant?

A: We chose this city because of its family environment.  We wanted to be in a community that we could influence and support.  We love the close proximity to the beach as well as the mountains.  Aliso Viejo was a place that felt like home from the first time we visited the city.

Q: What does your business specialize in?

A: We are quick-service restaurant that serves delicious chicken.  We want to be known for more than just a restaurant.  We are in our community for our community!

Q: Is it family-owned and how did you get into such a business?

A: Our Chick-fil-A is a franchise location.  I actually began working at Chick-fil-A in Panama City, FL at the age of 16.  I was influenced by my operator to continue on with the company.  I always had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to own my own business so Chick-fil-A seemed like the perfect choice.  Right after graduating college, from Florida State University, I joined the Interim Manager program for Chick-fil-A.  This is pipeline program for internal candidates to get their own restaurant.  We traveled all over the country for two years running corporately owned Chick-fil-As.  After two long years of looking for a place that was the right fit for us, we found Aliso Viejo.  We are extremely happy with our finding!

Q: What is the best part of doing business in Aliso Viejo and do you live here?

A: The best part about Aliso Viejo is its people.  The people we meet are incredible.  We wanted to be in a community that we could influence and give back to.  The relationships we have formed with our guests, our city, schools, and team members are immeasurable. We do live in Aliso Viejo as well. 

Q: How has your business evolved over the years and what do you see as challenges and benefits?

A: Our business has really grown over the last three years.  The biggest challenge at first was brand awareness.  Chick-fil-A is a household name in the south, but it is still very new to CA.  When we opened, 40% of our guests were here for the first-time to Chick-fil-A.  It was a struggle to not only share our food, but to teach the community about the culture of Chick-fil-A.  While we are in a wonderful location, we do have challenges of competing with all the food options in Town Center.  The benefits are endless.  We feel very fortunate to have the support of the local schools, city and people of Aliso Viejo.  Chick-fil-A is unique because we actually invest in relationships.  The benefit of this to our business is tremendous.  We have met so many people along our journey that are now advocates for us and our business.

Q: Do you incorporate any “green” practices into your business?

A: Yes.  Chick-fil-A has a foam cup recycling program.  Our foam (polystyrene) cups are sent off to be made into things such as picture frames and crown molding.  We also recycle our oil and cardboard.

Chick-fil-A is at 26861 Aliso Creek Road. For more information, call 949-425-1685.