Before coming to the United States, Oscar Fittipaldi served in the Argentine Navy. Still, he dreamed of adventure above the Equator. “I always had the desire to be in New York City,” says Fittipaldi. “It’s the epicenter of the world, and I thought to myself, I hope I someday have the chance to be in this great place.”
The big apple
Today he is not only in Manhattan, but making his mark as the first franchisee to bring the famed Atlanta-based fried chicken restaurant, Chick-fil-A, to its residents.
“I was always fascinated by the fact that, if you have an amazing product and you integrate it with supreme service, you have a formidable success,” he says. “I want people to have an experience through our service. That’s what precipitated my energy to be part of this industry.”
Selling fast-food chicken wasn’t Fittipaldi’s dream initially, however. “I always wanted to have a Tuscan-style coffee shop with stone and brick and nice coffee, a welcoming bar and a great experience for people. But there are so many things you need to go through before you get to that point in terms of financial investment,” he says.
By popular demand
When his wife started working with the Chick-fil-A brand in New Jersey, he came to see the appeal of a popular national franchise. Chick-fil-A receives about 20,000 franchise requests every year and only selects between 75 and 80 to move forward. “She would communicate to me every night about this amazing and meaningful brand, and it sparked an interest in me. It’s a privately-held, family-owned company, and that’s what I wanted to be part of.”
If Fittipaldi faced obstacles in being an immigrant climbing up the fast food ladder in the U.S. (he gave up a Chick-fil-A franchise in Philadelphia to take on the Big Apple), he doesn’t see it that way. “I try not to use the word challenges,” he says. “I’d much rather focus on the opportunities.”