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From Teen Employee to General Manager: How This Layne’s GM Is Building a Path to Ownership

Twenty-two-year-old Jason Cabrera was promoted to General Manager just one week after his 19th birthday. He now plans to own a Layne’s franchise in the near future.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 4:16PM 12/01/23

Jason Cabrera, the general manager of Layne’s Chicken Fingers of Lewisville, Texas, the Soon to be Famous™ fried chicken franchise, took over management of the restaurant a week after his 19th birthday. He was previously buttering toast and washing dishes, but a labor shortage opened up higher-level roles with the brand, and CEO Garrett Reed turned to an unexpected solution: teenage employees. Cabrera, who was one of three promoted during this time, increased sales by 27% at the Lewisville restaurant. He is now a successful manager and plans to open his own Layne’s restaurant one day.

“I’m pretty comfortable with everything. I’ve been doing this for like four years now, so I know what I’m doing here,” said Cabrera. “Right now, I’m actually working on being a traveling trainer to help open new stores, so that’s my next step.”

Cabrera said that he has always had access to Reed and COO Samir Wattar, but now, they communicate even more frequently. Recently, Cabrera traveled to Pittsburgh to support a grand opening, and he was involved in the Beaumont, Texas opening, too. With plans to do this for the next two to four years, Cabrera said he will be on the road a lot, but he looks forward to making a positive impact and potentially even leading the training team at some point. 

This experience has also given him even more insight into what it will mean to be a business owner when the time comes. After seeing firsthand some of the situations owners have to navigate through opening restaurants, Cabrera said he plans to spend a bit more time with the company gaining experience and honing his skills, but he wants to step into ownership while he’s still young — in his late 20s or early 30s.

While Cabrera is young, he has never seen his age as a barrier or an indicator that he might not succeed. Rather, he leverages the passion he has built for the brand over his years of service to continue doing a great job, supporting his local team and restaurant while playing a crucial role in its overarching development plans.

“When I made the decision to promote three teenagers to general managers, people thought I was crazy,” said Reed. “There was a lot of talk about this generation not wanting to work, but I saw a spark in these kids. Jason is a prime example of what a teenage dishwasher can turn into when they have an opportunity and support, and we’re proud to have those people holding key positions at Layne’s.”

“We are always committed to protecting the brand and protecting the franchisee,” added Wattar. “That is at the heart of everything we do. Jason has proven that he is committed to protecting the brand, and when he is ready to become an owner, we will be there to ‘protect’ him with whatever guidance and support he needs to succeed.”

“I’d definitely be the first person in my circle to be in that [entrepreneurial] ballpark,” said Cabrera. “I know all of the pros and cons of business ownership, but again, I feel very comfortable with everything. Garrett and Samir have always gone over game plans down the road, and I know if I have questions, they’ll always answer them for me. They’re always helping me out.”

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