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From a 16-year-old Team Member to Operator: Meet Jon Hooper,
a California native focused on community in the Bay Area

February 8, 2023

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Jon Hooper began Chick-fil-A career in high school before opening his first restaurant in Fremont, California

As a kid growing up in California, Jon Hooper had never heard of Chick-fil-A®. His family relocated to Virginia when he was 12 because his father was in the military. Hooper came from humble beginnings and as such, became a young entrepreneur, taking on different jobs like walking dogs or washing cars to help his family. Little did he know he’d find a career just down the street, at a restaurant he had never heard of.

“When I was 15, I went to a Chick-fil-A® restaurant for the first time. Everyone was so welcoming and nice that I put an application in that day, on my first visit,” Hooper said.

The next day, the restaurant called Hooper back for a job interview. He was told he was a little too young to apply and to come back once he was 16. He wasted no time, returning on his 16th birthday. On October 18, 2001, Hooper was hired.

His first job was in the back of the restaurant washing dishes. During his time as a Team Member, though, Hooper worked his way up through the business and served as a Team Leader while attending community college for a year. He earned a Chick-fil-A Remarkable Futures™️ Scholarship multiple times and transferred to Old Dominion University. He took classes during the day and worked at night. After closing at the restaurant, he would return to his studies to get ready for class the next day.

After graduating and working in education, Hooper was still looking for a career that combined his passion for community and entrepreneurship. With encouragement from the Operator that first hired him, Hooper applied for Chick-fil-A’s interim manager program. He spent two years managing corporate-owned restaurants in Chick-fil-A's west region because he wanted to work his way back to California. In 2015, he became an Operator at a Chick-fil-A in Fremont, California, one of only five restaurants in the Bay area at that time.

As he grew his business and team during the last seven years, his attention shifted to having greater impact beyond the restaurant. He got actively involved in organizations tackling challenges of hunger and homelessness in the East Bay community. Additionally, motivated in part from his own experiences of being gay and a person of color, he found meaningful ways to support organizations with a focus on those communities.

One organization, in particular, Jon has a strong passion for is Youth Uprising, a community center in Oakland focused on uplifting youth and disrupting the cycle of intergenerational poverty and violence. Hooper’s restaurant donates hundreds of sandwiches to Youth Uprising each month.

“Growing up I didn’t have an organization like this,” Hooper said. “It would’ve been beneficial if I did. I had to find my own way, and my way was through Chick-fil-A.”

In 2022, Hooper was selected to be the owner/operator of Chick-fil-A Emeryville In-Line, which is slated to open in spring of 2023. Hooper looks forward to deepening his impact in the San Francisco Bay Area, a place he is proud to call home.