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Tiffany Derry Wants to Break the Franchise Model With Roots Chicken Shak

Along with her business partner Tom Foley, Derry is taking aim at an equitable franchise

A chef stands in a kitchen behind a serving counter. She’s looking down at a grill that’s out of sight.
Tiffany Derry is always cooking up something new.
Kathy Tran
Courtney E. Smith is the editor of Eater Dallas. She's a journalist of 20 years who was born and raised in Texas, with bylines in Pitchfork, Wired, Esquire, Yahoo!, Salon, Refinery29, and more. When she's not writing about food, she co-hosts the podcast Songs My Ex Ruined.

Tiffany Derry and Tom Foley have been working on a franchise model for Roots Chicken Shak, which has locations in Plano and Austin. Now, they’re ready to roll it out — but one not at all small note: this model is not built for wealthy investors to jump in.

Instead, via their company T2D Concepts, Derry and Foley want to focus on what they call “hospitality with a purpose.” To those ends, they’ve created a franchise model that doesn’t prioritize investment capital but leans on “strategic relationships with funding partners, municipalities, and companies aligned with the group’s mission,” per a press release, to handle the financial end of opening a new franchise.

The duo says that the ideal franchisee isn’t one with a high net worth. Instead, they’re looking for people who are committed to their core value of exceptional hospitality and someone with “a baseline level of restaurant operations experience.”

“As a Black female, I understand and empathize with the challenges of breaking into and becoming successful in the hospitality industry,” Derry said. “That’s why this endeavor is so important — to be able to provide under-resourced individuals the opportunity and resources to build a better life for not only themselves, but also the communities they live in.”

The Brookings Institute noted that the wealth gap between Black and white families is in part caused by the disparity in intergenerational wealth, which is lightly taxed. The Center for American Progress calls closing that race-based wealth gap a “generational challenge,” which this financial model aims to make a dent in.

The press release also notes that the pair have created a plan for the Roots Chicken Shak franchise, including buildings with an “efficient footprint, streamlined menu centered around Tiffany’s duck fat-fried chicken, and elimination of food waste...and also works to catalyze social justice.”

“We designed this model with the intention to shift the franchise system and provide pathways for marginalized community members to operate their own business,” Foley says. “We invite those interested in starting a franchise and making a difference to join our mission.”