Local business franchiser wins national award for high standards
By: Andrew Szekeres
| Posted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 10:38 am
Yousaf Khan, owner of the Mary Brown Famous Chicken & Taters’s location in Airdrie, has won the 2013 National Mary Brown’s Franchisee Award.
Khan was one of 17 nominees across Canada for the award. A six-person committee made up of the company’s administration, including president Nigel Beattie chose the winner based on a ranking of six criteria.
“The president came and he hugged me,” Khan said smiling. “He told me, ‘you deserve all this.’”
The Airdrie restaurant, which is located in the Kingsview Market shopping centre, won after receiving near perfect scores in the quality of food, customer service, cleaning, community involvement, sales and by maintaining high standards for the restaurant ranked by the six-person committee.
“We use Alberta local chicken, we cut the chicken in the store and we use canola high-stability oil,” Khan said. “That leads to better quality food that supports Albertan farmers.”
Khan opened the Airdrie location in 2011 and said it was a slow start at first, but to help increase business while keeping cost down, Khan worked alone for the first six months.
“In the beginning of the first year, I did opening and closing,” Khan said. “I worked very hard at making sure that everything was top quality and there was great service.”
Khan, a father of two, has a five-year-old son, who requires extra assistance with his development. Even with the long hours Khan puts in at the restaurant, he still finds the time to take his son to the neurologist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary three to four times a month. In June, Khan’s son graduated from the Inspiration Station pre-school and will be headed to the RJ Hawkey School in September.
The win is the first for any Mary Brown’s locations in Alberta.
Originally from Pakistan, Khan spent time in Dubai as an electrical engineer but moved to Airdrie in 2011, for a change of pace from the busy city of more than two million people.
“Airdrie is a great city,” Khan said. “You’re aren’t as rushed here. It’s a great, more relaxing place to live.”
Some of the community involvement Khan has been involved in through the restaurant in the past year includes sponsoring local youth hockey and ringette clubs such as the Airdrie Bantam Blackhawks, the Atom Attack and the Ring of Fire ringette organization, providing free food for first responders during the 2013 Alberta flood in Calgary, participating in fundraisers for the Airdrie Public Library and Muriel Clayton Middle School and donating food to Airdrie Meals on Wheels. Khan has also helped Living Springs – a Christian fellowship group that was travelling to Guatemala, Children’s Wish Foundation and by sponsoring Canadian athletes for the 2013 Special Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
“I love working with the community,” Khan said. “I try to keep all of the thank-you cards I receive.”
Khan said that he wouldn’t have been able to succeed without the help from his wife, Kishwer.
“She always encouraged me, never complained and helped out when I couldn’t with the kids,” Khan said.
“She even comes in to help me out at work.”
Eventually, Khan said he will take time to himself, but has some goals to accomplish first.
“For the next four to five years, I’m putting myself into this business,” Khan said. “Then maybe I’ll take some time for myself.”
The Airdrie location is currently ranked in the top 50 in sales in Canadian locations, but Khan said his target right now is to break the top 40. Currently there are 105 locations in Canada.
One area that Khan said would help his business reach the top 40 is a road connecting Kingsview Blvd. to the Kingsview Market.
“This is still fairly new here and my store is at the end,” Khan said. “Next year we should have a road that will connect us to the (Kingsview Blvd.), so I’ll be at the front.”