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Wings Over chief shares his celebrity crush and why he’s over avocados


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“This may seem a little biased, but my biggest guilty pleasure is eating wings late at night.” — Dan Leyva, Chief Wing Officer, Wings Over  

Who would play you in the biopic about your life?

I haven’t given this a lot of thought, but one of my favorite movies right now is ‘The Founder.’ It’s not apples to apples, but a lot of what they went through is what we’re going through now with building the brand. I don’t know if it’d be Michael Keaton who plays me though.

What’s your favorite franchise brand that’s not your own?

Chick-fil-A is one I’ve always drawn inspiration from. They obviously have some controversy going on, but aside from that what they’ve done with making a chicken sandwich a luxurious item, and the model, that’s an inspiration for what we do.

If you weren’t in the restaurant business, what would you do?

I’ve always been a huge music guy. I grew up playing saxophone so it’s always been a dream of mine to own a jazz bar or do something in the music industry.

What’s one restaurant or food trend you wish would die?

We were just talking about this the other day. I don’t wish it would totally die, but avocados are so expensive, so not putting avocado on everything. I wish people would stop using such expensive ingredients—it’s like you’re adding the price of an entrée for a topping.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

This may seem a little biased, but my biggest guilty pleasure is eating wings late at night. Back in college I can’t say I was always fully sober, but I love eating wings late at night. Also watching ‘Impractical Jokers.’ It’s usually on ‘til 2 or 3 in the morning, which is how late I’m usually working.

With whom would you most like to spend a day?

Can I say more than one? Call these celebrity crushes or man crushes, but Justin Timberlake, Aaron Rodgers and Lebron. I’d love to spend a day listening to music, playing golf, playing football, just hanging out with all three of them. I’d bring some wings and we’d have a wing party.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?

I follow a lot of people, but I’m a big fan of Michael Lastoria of &pizza. He just opened a location in our neighborhood. It’s really cool how he’s been able to use his platform for something more, being so focused on culture and taking care of people.  

Laura Michaels

Editor Laura Michaels asks the tough questions—What superhero power would you most like to have? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?—to show a side of franchising execs you don’t normally see. To suggest an industry professional, email lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

I’ve eaten ants. I’ll eat almost anything, but ants I’ve eaten a few different times. One was fried ants thrown on top of guacamole, and then at Pujol, my favorite restaurant in Mexico City, they make a chipotle mayo with chicatana ants on smoked corn. It’s a signature dish.

What’s your favorite travel destination?

When I was in college I did a Semester at Sea, it’s a study abroad program on a cruise ship. You travel to 13 different countries in Asia, South America and over to Europe. That experience opened my eyes to these 13 countries and I’ve been back to some of them. I’m a big fan of Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam and Thailand.

Also the Maldives.

What superhero power would you most like to have?

Without a doubt I’d like to teleport. It’s the fastest way to get somewhere. I don’t enjoy driving, commuting; so teleporting for sure.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Early on when I was in school I was told, always listen to the guest. Don’t make decisions based on board rooms or just financials, but what your guests want or need. In any industry, if your decision is motivated by the guest, it’s likely going to be the right decision.

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