A Scoop of Support
A Scoop of SupportSeptember 27, 2021
Kyle Welch does not lack ambition. In 2012, a then 25-year-old Welch took his first steps into restaurant entrepreneurship as the operating partner of a Little Caesars franchisee group.
Two years later, the Grand Rapids native and his partners purchased a Cold Stone Creamery store on the outskirts of downtown Chicago. Welch and his team have since grown Chicago Scoops into the nation’s largest Cold Stone franchisee with more than 40 units across a dozen states.
And in early 2020, Welch applied the core tenets of his professional life to philanthropic pursuits as COVID-19 rattled daily lives in his adopted home-town of Chicago.
“What brings me joy is not chasing a revenue figure or a specific number of stores, but job creation, culture and supporting others,” Welch said.
After enduring early hits from COVID-19, including temporarily closing many of his Cold Stone stores and enduring weeks without revenue, Welch used delivery and pop-up drive-thrus to bring employees back to work and to safely serve guests a taste of familiarity and comfort amid abnormal times.
Soon after, Welch assigned the principles of scale and service engrained in Chicago Scoops’ growth to helping others impacted by COVID-19. Alongside other Chicago-area leaders, Welch helped launch Feed Chicago in April 2020. The nonprofit set a simple mission: bringing restaurant workers back to work and getting food into the hands of first responders, health care workers and families in need.
"What brings me joy is not chasing a revenue figure or a specific number of stores, but job creation, culture and supporting others."
“It was as [grassroots] as it gets,” Welch said. “A lot of people joining together to make things happen.”
By the end of May, and with a hearty assist from Chicago Spartans who partnered with Feed Chicago for the alumni organization’s 2020 virtual day of service, Feed Chicago had distributed nearly 24,000 meals and restored more than 5,600 paid hours of work to the tune of $84,000.
“Amid a tough year, this was a real shining light for me because I knew we were having a positive impact,” Welch said of Feed Chicago’s noble-minded efforts.
Feed Chicago recently rebranded as Prosper Chicago, a move made to reflect the organization’s desire to address local needs beyond the pandemic. Prosper Chicago aims to spur job creation and employment training in tandem with Chicago-area restaurants while also addressing food insecurity. The nonprofit hopes to serve 500,000 meals to at-risk residents within the next three years.
“It’s really a virtuous cycle of job creation and free meals,” Welch said.
It’s also a fitting representation of Welch’s enterprising spirit as well as his earnest desire to leverage the hospitality space to encourage the personal and professional growth of others.
“The Spartan Way is really grinding your way to success, and that’s something the restaurant industry allows,” Welch said. “With drive, motivation and a true spirit to serve others, you can work your way up the ladder.”
Contributing Writer(s): Daniel P. Smith