Job title: President, Chirp Foods
Why he’s a 2019 Top 40 Under 40:
Usman Tahir Jutt was Canada’s youngest McDonald’s franchisee and now with more than a dozen restaurants (and counting), is one of the largest. His entrepreneurial success fuels his philanthropy, which includes supporting community gardens and raising awareness about opioid addiction in high schools.
Usman Tahir Jutt has never eaten a Big Mac. For most people, that wouldn’t be a big deal, but most people don’t own more McDonald’s restaurants than they can count on two hands.
Jutt grew up in Edmonton in a home that housed up to 16 extended-family members. As the eldest of eight children born to a father who was unable to read or write, maturity came early. At 12, Jutt was reviewing banking documents for his father. At 18, he bought his first business — a gas station in Camrose, Alta., where he was attending first-year university. “I found out it only cost $12,000, so I manipulated some of my student loan money and bought it,” he says.
After two years he dropped out of school and moved to Calgary to pursue full-time entrepreneurialism, searching for opportunities that fulfilled his three-pronged mantra: “I want a business where I don’t have to worry about the guest count. I want to be able to make money, to make my investment worthwhile. And I want a business that allows me to do what I call ‘scale for good.’”
McDonald’s turned out to be an ideal fit. He bought his first restaurant in 2013 and currently owns more than a dozen in Calgary, Airdrie and Strathmore, doing $45 million in sales annually. Jutt has created a fast-food empire dedicated to employee satisfaction. His executive team is 80 per cent women and his company, Chirp Foods, offers a maternity leave top-up and subsidized child care.
Already one of the largest operators in Canada, Jutt plans to keep growing aggressively, leveraging the scale so he can continue to grow his community work. Spanning two decades, Jutt’s community involvement has had an impact of almost $1 million. Chirp Foods has donated to numerous charities including the United Way, Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Special Olympics. Jutt also works to raise awareness about opioid problems in high schools, funds a community garden for low-income seniors and advocates for provincial policy for affordable child care and transit.
All that, and he still hasn’t had a Big Mac.
“I decided I’d have one when I bought my own restaurant — I’d make it myself — but it was so chaotic the night I took over, I forgot. So I decided I’d be the owner who’s never eaten a Big Mac.” He really likes the Filet-O-Fish, though.