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How Dan Leyva Rebuilt The Wings Over Brand To Reflect Today’s America | Forbes

Published 4 months ago
By Forbes

When he was 13, Leyva fibbed about his age to land a job at KFC. After graduating high school and then college (at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration), both firsts for his Mexican immigrant family, he returned to fast food in 2017. Devastated when his favorite Ithaca, New York, wing spot, Wings Over, closed due to financial problems, Leyva convinced three wealthy college buddies to invest with him for an estimated $10 million acquisition of the entire franchise. In addition to improving the menu by ditching frozen meat and off-brand items like burgers, Leyva overhauled the 20-year-old chain’s online ordering, design and branding. Sales have since grown 20% to over $50 million. Says Leyva, who recently opened his thirty-seventh location, in Linden, New Jersey: “I’m very fortunate that my family has lived the American dream.”

As North America settles in for a long pandemic winter, there are bright spots on the horizon. Hundreds of them. The 600 young entrepreneurs, activists, scientists and entertainers featured in our 10th Annual Forbes 30 Under 30 give everyone reason to hope. Some are defying the odds and building businesses despite Covid-19; others are helping to fight the illness, serving on hospital front- lines or working with A.I. to discover new drugs. This year they were photographed by one of their own: Mamadi Doumbouya, a 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea who appears in this year’s Art & Style group. Collectively, our Under 30 trailblazers have raised over $1 billion in venture funding and are proof positive that ambition and innovation can’t be quarantined.

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