What's Right: Jack in the Box franchise owner lives the American dream

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by Sherry Williams / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 11, 2011 at 9:46 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 11 at 9:50 AM

HOUSTON—Atour Eyvazian is known for giving employees at his Jack in the Box extra time off, with pay, for maternity leave. He pushes his staff to get off the food prep line and into management. And if they want a day off just to goof off, Eyvazian says take it.

"We have extremely low turnovers," said John Dishko, director of operations. He said the reason is because of Eyvazian’s relationship with his employees.

To understand Eyvasian you have to know his background. As a teenager, his parents paid smugglers to get him out of turbulent 1980’s Iran. He almost died crossing mountains.

"From 65 kilos I was 45. I lost 20 kilos in 10 days," said Eyvazian.

After barely surviving the mountains, he was thrown into a Turkish prison where he was tortured. Finally with money sewn into his pants, he bribed his way out of the prison and made it to America after winning a type of political asylum.

He moved in with an uncle who had previously come to America. Eyvasian did not know a word of English but got hired as the janitor at a Jack in the Box.

"I was happy," he said, "because I was making $3.35 (an hour)."

He said he was such a happy, dependable worker that his co-workers were constantly asking him if he was on drugs.

Eyvasian went to night school and learned English. He kept pursuing his education until he earned an M.B.A.

He kept pursuing opportunities at Jack in the Box too, until he became the owner of 49 Jack in the Box restaurants in Houston. He owns 117 nationwide, making him the largest franchise owner of Jack in the Box restaurants in America.

"This country has allowed me to do this. No other place you could do this," Eyvazian said.

He has won community and humanitarian awards for his constant generosity, especially toward immigrants and the disadvantaged.

"Somebody has given me a helping hand and I have to do the same thing for somebody else behind me," Eyvasian said.

This multi-millionaire Sugar Land resident even takes time out of his busy schedule to counsel the troubled teens of his employees. With his background and success story, they would do very well to listen.

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