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Honoree Headshot

Asif Poonja

Chief Executive Officer
Jam Equities LLC

Location: Cook County
Year Founded: 2009
Industry Group Specific: Food & Beverage

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Asif Poonja describes himself as a first-generation citizen but a second-generation restaurant operator. “My father immigrated here from Pakistan and drove a cab and worked as a waiter until he had enough saved up to open his first Dunkin Donuts in the 80s,” said Poonja. “Without any formal education, he grew his restaurant empire to over 56 locations and my siblings and I were brought up in the business.”

Poonja said from a young age, he saw how hard his father worked and how he emphasized good customers service and clean restaurants. His father’s work ethic instilled Poonja’s passion to follow his path and he is now the CEO of Jam Equities, LLC, with 14 restaurants and plans to expand to 40-50 units within the next five years.

Jam Equities, LLC is a restaurant franchise based out of Chicago with a mission to create a memorable experience for people. The company strives to create a lasting impression on their guests as well as their team members.

“Asif is a turnaround expert in his brand of restaurants,” said his staff. “Our team instills the fundamentals and foundations for running good operations within the restaurant four walls and gives opportunity and hope for those individuals who have difficult pasts and might have never received the opportunity for education.”

Poonja encourages teaching employees that with a little hard work and determination, they can build a life for themselves and their families that they can be proud of. “We help them understand how to run a successful business with skills that will help them in their home life as well,” said Poonja. “We reward good behavior and recognize individuals who are going the extra mile in the organization and want to move up within the company.”

This includes telling the story of the ownership group and instilling comradery, teamwork and training in the restaurant business. “We teach the team that they are not just restaurant general managers but in fact, CEOs of the restaurant and have an amazing profit-sharing plan from their multi-million dollar business,” said Poonja.

Poonja also leads by example by serving on committees on his franchise board. He has been on the regional marketing franchise for the last 14 years that serves over 100 restaurants locally. In addition, he and his team have had five restaurants in the last three years experience between 30 to over 80 percent increases in sales and traffic due to solid operations, fast and friendly service and clean restaurants.

For his entrepreneurial spirit, work ethic and ability to foster the growth of others, Poonja has been named a titan.

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Asif's superpower is running the foodservice industry!

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