Off the Cuff

Why this CEO Asked to be Paid Less

Off the Cuff

"They can't believe that I call myself the Big Chicken,” George Michel, CEO of Boston Market, told “Off The Cuff.” “When I introduce myself as the Big Chicken, the first thing is I get a big laugh and then they really want to see my business card.”

Michel was named CEO of the fast-casual chain in 2010. His 40-year career in the food and restaurant business began when he worked as an hourly kitchen cook to put himself through college. “It taught me humility, to get along with people, and more importantly how to deal with the customers,” he said. “I understand what our employees go through, so connecting with them at the restaurant level, getting their ideas, making them feel comfortable is very important to me.”

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His attitude to his employees extends to compensation – he claimed that he’s negotiated down his own raise on a number of occasions. “I felt I need to treat myself the way we treat our employees. I was given a raise that was over and above what everyone else was getting. And I would feel very bad about doing that,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Big Chicken departed from the chain’s signature dish, and introduced ribs to Boston Market’s menu. The new ribs weigh in at 1,180 calories, 29 grams saturated fat and 3150 milligrams of sodium -- approximately double the calories, saturated fat and sodium of the chain's half rotisserie chicken. “The U.S. is all about choice, whether it's in politics or at home,” Michel said. “We wanted to give the choice to the customers between an indulgent meal and a meal that's great for you.”

Michel doesn’t cook much anymore, he said: “My wife likes to cook more than I do, so I'm only allowed in the kitchen once a month.”

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