Veterans Week: Chick-fil-A Celebrates the Military
The countdown is ON for this year’s 14th Annual Chick-fil-A Military Appreciation Night! What better time than Veterans Week to honor the men and women who protect our great nation! The big event is taking place aboard the USS Midway Museum on November 10, 2021. Chick-fil-A is helping recognize hundreds of military families for their continued sacrifice and dedication. The FREE community event includes fighter jets, Chick-fil-A goodies, games, music, swag bags, and a whole lot of fun.
We talked with Chick-fil-A Grossmont Owner/Operator Rick Preciado about the big night, his military background as a West Point graduate, mentorship and the foundation of values.
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: We’re really excited about what Chick-fil-A is doing for military appreciation. Share a little about the event and around the rally and around the people.
Rick Preciado: First of all, thanks so much for this opportunity, we’re really pumped up about this special event taking place for Veteran’s Week, which coincides with Veteran’s Day and it’s time we’re actually doing something on the USS Midway. Before this, we served our community by providing for local families at their local Chick-fil-A to visit us, but nothing as big as, “Hey, let’s get all of San Diego soldiers and sailors and their families together on the USS Midway and celebrate this as one big happy family.”
RM: What an exciting time, especially coming off the heels of so much isolation, getting everybody together in a safe environment and able to recognize their talents and events. So, what does that mean to you?
RP: First of all, I’m just so happy that we’re able to meet with people again and congregate. We’re all, as Owner/Operators of Chick-fil-As, we’re not in the chicken business, but in the people business. So, now that we’re slowly reopening our dining rooms and seeing smiling faces and kids laughing, it’s such a relief for me, it refills my emotional batteries. So, to do this as one huge event on the USS Midway is just amazing, it’s also to build on our military community, thanking people for their service. I’m a military brat, grew up on military bases, I was born overseas in Panama, so I know what families go through, the transition and then serving, challenges with making friends, finances, all that challenges. So this is just a chance to take a deep breath and love on our San Diego military community and just thank them for everything they do for our country.
RM: So, what was it that made you want to continue that legacy within your family?
RP: That’s a great question. So, I told myself as a child growing up on military bases, I would never follow in my dad’s footsteps, but my dad is an army veteran, 26 years — Special Forces and a Vietnam vet — I told myself I never wanted to do that. Sometimes you have to be careful with words, you might end up eating crow. But just the patriotism of the military base. I grew up in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 82nd Headquarters based there so I saw thousands of soldiers jumping out of airplanes, landing and that just really motivated me. I changed my mind, I wanted to serve my country and do the best I can to keep them safe and get a great education along the way.
RM: Absolutely, and then getting to own a business that could also still be supportive of that community, or in that area. What did that look like? What was the decision and thought process going into wanting to be part of this company?
RP: Yes, I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. And before Chick-fil-A, I was in the corporate world for about twenty years, before that five years in the active military after graduating from West Point, serving a bit overseas and another five years in the reserves, but all my military experiences in West Point serving as a officer in the US Army auxiliary branch, and then just being a business leader out here, it all factors into the success of Chick-fil-A. I love what Chick-fil-A stands for in terms of its values. Believe me we’re so exhausted some days! (laughter) It’s just great to sleep in, you know, get a cup of coffee, go to church to sing, have peace, and just take care of your body, I have never appreciated that more than ever. I’m just super thankful for Chick-fil-A for giving me the opportunity to be a representative of their brand and have a branch. I almost have 150 people now. And it’s a lot of youth, so I’ve been blessed in my life, be it sports, in college, in the military. Now it’s my time to give back, pour into the community.
RM: I like that mentorship, especially now to have a generation that is showing us what that looks like, and we’re able to emulate that. Then I’ve got to ask, do you have a go-to menu item? You can’t say all of them!
RP: Yeah, right now I’m on a health food kick. So I’m eating a lot of grilled nuggets, right. And then our grilled wraps, occasionally with the Chick-fil-A sauce, I can’t get away from that, but we’ve got a greater variety, regular chicken sandwiches, but our salads are great too. Right now I’m living on our grilled wraps and salads.
More information at Chick-fil-A Military Appreciation Night
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