From Pizza To Fried Rice: A Billion-Dollar Fortune From Fast Food

For a rarified group of food entrepreneurs, hitting the big time means selling millions of $5 foot-long sandwiches, $3 Japanese beef bowls or classic pepperoni pizzas for $5.99. Sell enough of those – or enough franchises that sell this popular fast food – and you may end up on Forbes list of the World’s Billionaires

Фото: thedailymeal.net

14 people of the 2,043 members of the new Forbes World’s Billionaires list have done just that. Some of the super successful companies they own are familiar names to Americans (think Subway and Little Caesars), while others have built a loyal following in places like Japan and the Philippines.

Kentaro Ogawa, a newcomer to the billionaire ranks, built his $1 billion fortune on beef bowls. Called “gyudon,” the popular meal is shredded beef over rice bowl – a staple at Sukiya, a chain with 1,970 locations primarily in Japan; it also has locations in China, Mexico and Brazil. The gyudon guru founded food chain Zensho in 1982 after a career in shipyard work and labor union activism. Now trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Zensho operates a network of 4,800 restaurants; Zensho’s other food chains serve  udon noodles,hamburger steaks and conveyer-belt sushi.

Marian Ilitch, who with her children has a fortune of $6 billion, became the sole surviving founder of Little Caesars Pizza this year after her husband and cofounder, Michael Ilitch, passed away in February at age 87. The couple, both first-generation Macedonian immigrants, met on a blind date arranged by Michael’s father in 1954. They opened their first pizzeria together in May 1959 with their life savings – $10,000 – in Garden City, Michigan. Now one of America’s largest pizza chains, Little Caesars posted revenues of over $4.2 billion in 2016. Outside of the U.S., they have restaurants in twenty other countries including Canada, Bahrain, Guam, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Panda Express was created by a married couple. Andrew and Peggy Cherng, immigrants from China and Burma, met as students at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. They opened their first Chinese food joint, Panda Express, in 1983 at a mall in a Los Angeles suburb. By making orange chicken and sweet-and-sour pork available to mall shoppers, airport travelers and Americans hungry for affordable, quick Chinese food, the couple debuted on the FORBES billionaires list in 2013 with a net worth of $2 billion.Today, they are worth $3.1 billion. Panda Express had $2.8 billion in 2016 revenues from its 1,900 locations. In 2011, they opened their first international restaurant in Mexico City and have since expanded internationally, including Puerto Rico, South Korea and Dubai.

Brothers Dan and Bubba Cathy inherited fried chicken empire Chick-Fil-A from their father, Truett Cathy, after he passed away in September 2014 at the age of 93. Truett opened the first Chick-Fil-A in an Atlanta mall in 1967, serving chicken sandwiches to factory and airport workers. In a column of Forbes on July 27, 1998, Truett wrote, “I am a Southern Baptist, and I believe that Sunday is a divine day. Fifty-two years ago we made a decision to close our restaurants on Sundays, and we never varied from that.” Almost two decades later, sons Dan and Bubba have kept to that decree and continue to keep the 2,000 stores shuttered on Sundays. The fried chicken moguls both entered our Billionaires List as newcomers in 2015 with a net worth of $3.2 billion each. This year, they are each worth $3.8 billion.

While fast food can be the source of immense billionaire-level wealth, like any great fortune, success can also be fickle. Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter is another newcomer on our Billionaires List this year. Shares of the publicly-traded pizza joint surged 58% surge in share price in 2016, which put Schnatter’s net worth at $1 billion as of mid February 2017. He started the company in 1984 out of a broom closet. Now, the pizzeria operates in 4,900 locations in 44 countries and territories, and pulled in$1.64 billion in sales in 2015. Papa John’s, however, posted weaker-than-expected sales for its fourth quarter, which it reported on February 21. The next day, the shares fell 7%. As of March 20, 2017 Forbes pegged his net worth at $925 million, knocking him out of the billionaires ranks, for now at least.

Tony Tan Caktiong, worth $3.4 billion, built his fortune  via his family-owned Jollibee, an Asian restaurant chain that serves up Filipino, Chinese, American and European dishes. In 1978 Caktiong and his family opened an ice cream parlor in the Cubao neighborhood of Quezon City in the Philippines. That was the first of now over 2,900 Jollibee locations worldwide. Caktiong shows no signs of slowing down - in January 2016, Jollibee purchased a 40% stake in U.S. burger chain Smashburger for $100 million. In August 2016, Jollibee opened a new location in Skokie, Illinois with hundreds of people waiting in line at the opening.

Here are the 14 billionaires, in net worth order, who minted big money in fast food:

1.Marian Ilitch & Family

Company: Little Caesars

Net worth: $6 billion

2. Bubba Cathy

Company: Chick-Fil-A

Net worth: $3.8 billion

2. Dan Cathy

Company: Chick-Fil-A

Net worth: $3.8 billion

4. Tony Tan Caktiong & family

Company: Jollibee

Net worth: $3.4 billion

5. Andrew & Peggy Cherng

Company: Panda Express

Net worth: $3.1 billion

6. Louis Le Duff

Company: Groupe Le Duff

Net worth: $2.6 billion

7. Peter Buck

Company: Subway

Net worth: $2.5 billion

8. Wu Zhigang & family

Company: Shenyang Toly Bread

Net worth: $2.1. billion

9. Jack Cowin

Company: Hungry Jack’s

Net worth: $1.7 billion

10. Hur Young-In

Company: Paris-Croissant Food

Net worth: $1.6 billion

11. Ronald Joyce

Company: Tim Hortons

Net worth: $1.4 billion

12. John Schnatter

Company: Papa John's

Net worth: $1 billion

12. Edgar Sia

Company: Mang Inasal

Net worth; $ 1 billion

12. Kentaro Ozawa

Company: Zensho Group

Net worh: $1 billion

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