Billy Cossette, 27

2 Posted by - October 2, 2013 - Charlotte-Lee-Collier 2013

Owner/operator, Chick-fil-A

Billy Cossette will quickly put to rest any question that working at a fast-food restaurant is a dead-end job.

Cossette started working at Chick-fil-A in a mall in Port Richey when he was 15 years old, working the register and passing out chicken samples to shoppers in the food court.

Over time, Cossette rose through the ranks and managed stores for the privately held chain all over the country. Today, he owns the busy Pine Island Road restaurant in Cape Coral.

At first, Cossette wanted to become a youth minister. But he also identified with the Christian values that the founding Cathy family instilled with their restaurant franchise (Chick-fil-A is known for being closed on Sundays, for example).

Chick-fil-A awards franchises to operators like Cossette who have proven able. It’s a rigorous process: the Cathys only award about 50 franchises each year and thousands apply.

Being chosen as an operator is the hard part, Cossette says. Once selected, the owner spends just $5,000 for the sole proprietorship. Chick-fil-A owns the real estate and splits the net profits with the owner.

Cossette says ownership of the restaurant helps him fulfill his dream of mentoring and helping young people. “It’s a perfect match for my purpose in life,” he says.

Plus, all the skills he’s learned are now put to good use at his church, where he oversees the hospitality team of 30 volunteers on Sundays. “It’s who I am and what I love,” he says.

—Jean Gruss

 InHisWords

City of residence: Cape Coral

Birthplace: Lowell, Mass.

Years on the Gulf Coast: 27

Alma mater: Pasco-Hernando Community College

Best place to network: Church

Coolest business experience: On Aug. 1, 2012, several thousand Chick-fil-A fans flooded our restaurants nationwide and waited in line for hours until we ran out of chicken. It was a surreal experience that we never could have planned for but a day I will not likely forget.

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: If you create a culture where people and relationships come before profits, the results will take care of themselves. Culture beats strategy every time.

Favorite off-hours activity: Fishing and landscaping

Who would play you in a movie about your life: Mr. T…ha! I don’t know maybe Jimmy Fallon.

If I had a magic wand I’d: Create a cure for cancer and fix our economy and national debt.

1 Comment

  • Ryan October 6, 2013 - 1:37 pm

    Billy,
    You rock man! Thanks so much for being the passionate people person you are! Your level of integrity and focus on culture and mentoring brings so much value to others in our community. This award is well deserved!
    -Ryan