Atlanta native, Spelman alum to open first Chick-fil-A in downtown Los Angeles

Ashley Derby became the company’s youngest black woman franchise owner in 2011 at 26.

Spelman College is known for producing women who succeed across many career fields including entertainment, science and mathematics. One graduate is continuing the tradition as one of the youngest Chick-fil-A franchise owners in the nation.

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Ashley Derby, who grew up in Marietta, is the new franchise operator of a chain in Los Angeles, bringing the downtown area its first location.

This isn’t the first time she has made history. In 2011 at age 26, she became the youngest African-American female franchise owner in the history of the company.

Derby began her career at the fast food restaurant at age 15 as a team member. The goal was to earn extra money to buy a car, but she continued working there throughout her years at Spelman.

Although she was initially a theater major, she switched to economics after one of her bosses pulled her aside to encourage her to pursue positions in leadership with the company.

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Following graduation, she spent three years completing Chick-fil-A management and development programs, which helped her become the owner and operator of a location near the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Now, she’s preparing to set up shop at a new spot.

"The energy in downtown L.A. is palpable," Derby said in a press release. "I cannot wait to become a part of this growing neighborhood, and I look forward to welcoming our guests with hand-crafted food and hospitality."

The 6,500-square-foot building, which will be located at 7th & Figueroa, will employ about 80 full- and part-time employees and have seating for up to 80 people. The grand opening is Thursday, Apr. 26.

In the meantime, learn more about the Atlantan’s journey below.

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