- June 15, 2016
Sidge Boast was 16 and in high school when he started his job at a Chick-fil-A in 1989. Seven years later, he bought his first franchise in the food court at the new West Oaks Mall in Ocoee.
Today, Sidge Boast and his wife, Jeane, are celebrating 25 years as franchisees in West Orange County.
They have owned the freestanding Ocoee location on West Colonial Drive since 2002 and the one in the Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves since 2008.
For Sidge Boast, Chick-fil-A has played a major role in his life — and he, in turn, has played a big role in directing and shaping the lives of countless students in West Orange County.
Sidge and Jeane Boast met in college when he was on the path to becoming a youth minister. He actually served as one for a short time while he was going to school, but, he said, something made him change his career path.
“Two weeks before seminary I came home and looked at my wife and said, ‘I think I should try Chick-fil-A,’” he said. “I felt like the Lord was just saying, ‘Try this,’ and I went on the road with Chick-fi-A.”
After college, the Boasts were married and started traveling together around the country as part of the restaurant’s leadership program. They did this for about a year.
They had their first shot at opening their own store when the West Oaks Mall opened 25 years ago. They operated near the mall’s movie theater for about seven years before moving on to the current Ocoee location by Walmart.
They added a second franchise when the outdoor mall in Winter Garden opened.
As their franchises grew with the community, Sidge and Jeane Boast maintained in-store positions, but that changed about three years ago when the scale of the sales became too large for their operations format.
“We were all getting burned out, so we changed everything that we do so we’re trying to run it like a (corporation) — I’m like the CEO, and we meet with the leaders,” he said. “She does the marketing, and I do the operations.”
It’s a family affair, as their three sons are employed at Chick-fil-A as well.
The Boasts still make plenty of time for youth and do so through community- and education-oriented events.
“We try to do everything we can for the schools, and so that’s our focus,” he said. “We don’t anymore because it’s so busy, but we used to do spirit nights. A few years ago we tallied that up, and we had given out $80,000 to the schools in one year, I couldn’t believe that.”
The Boasts continue to partner with nearby schools, and they have maintained their commitment to their student employees by giving college scholarships.
Sidge Boast said his heart always has been into working with youth.
“It’s being around young people and shaping them and telling them business can be fun if you’re doing it the right way,” he said. “You can be a morally ethical company, and it can be fun. On Saturday, they had a hotdog-eating contest before it got busy. It’s just fun to see these kids grow.”
Recently, the Boasts have taken a different tactic when hiring teens and young adults.
“We say, ‘How can we get you to your next job?’” Sidge Boast said. “We’ve got a girl who wants to do hair and makeup. And we said, ‘How can we help you with that?’ She said, ‘I don’t know how to hire people.’ So, we taught her how to hire people.
“We’re a transition job; what can we teach them,” he said. “We have some kids who are going to be operators, and we teach them the whole business. We have another girl, she never graduated high school, and we said, ‘How can we help you get through high school?’ and she now is taking classes and has an apartment.
“It gives us purpose,” he said. “It’s not just a job anymore — we’re helping these kids.”