College football coach makes the jump to Chick-fil-A
It’s December 27, 2017, and Tony Levine is gathering his family for a quick photo on the field at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., home to the San Francisco 49ers. Levine is an assistant football coach for the Purdue Boilermakers, who just won the Foster Farms Bowl in thrilling fashion, coming from behind in the closing seconds to defeat the Arizona Wildcats, 38-35.
It’s a memorable moment for Levine. Not only did his team clinch victory, but this is the last time he will be on the field as a college football coach.
Fast-forward to nearly a month later. Levine finds himself at Chick-fil-A’s offices in Atlanta, sporting a hairnet and learning what it takes to make Waffle Fries.
He’s practicing for a new game plan: becoming a Chick-fil-A Owner and Operator.
“One thing I’ve always tried to do is become an expert in anything I do,” Levine said. “All during the training, I kept thinking to myself, ‘I’m laying the foundation to become a Chick-fil-A expert.’ Learning something new is exciting to me. This entire process has been very exciting.”
For the last 22 years, Levine’s expertise was rooted in coaching college football. During more than two decades of pacing sidelines and working with players from across the country, he coached at several schools, including Auburn University and the University of Louisville. Seven of those years were spent with the University of Houston, with a three-season stint as the Cougars’ head coach.
While coaching brought its share of milestones for Levine, it was also the reason he missed out on many of his children’s own milestones. When Levine started thinking about the next chapter of his professional life, family played a major role in the decision, along with his other passions: developing young people and giving back to the Houston community.
So when the opportunity of owning a Chick-fil-A in Houston presented itself, Levine was quick to act – a trait undoubtedly honed during decades of practice.
And while it may be difficult for some to draw comparisons between Levine’s current and former professions, he thinks it’s pretty easy to connect the dots.
“I’m still going to be coaching,” Levine says with a smile. “The tools I used when recruiting players are the same I’m using now to hire our Team Members. It’s still my job to do everything I can to put everyone in the right position to be successful.”
This spring, Levine will bring the knowledge he’s obtained both on the field and in the kitchen to Houston’s newest Chick-fil-A, and he can’t wait to get started.
“There’s no place quite like Houston,” Levine said. “The opportunity to be able to continue to do what I am passionate about, while working for the best restaurant in the industry is incredible. It excites me every morning when I wake up.”