Golden Corral franchisee Hu Odom has been named winner of the 2019 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award by Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine. Odom was chosen for the Community Involvement Leadership Award for his incredible generosity, giving back to the neighborhoods he serves and becoming a role model for other franchisees.
Hu Odom owns 20 Golden Corral restaurants in Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia. He has been with Golden Corral since 1986, and is one of the chain’s most successful operators, winning its Franchisee of the Year award three times.
In addition to his success as a franchise owner, Odom has a long history of giving back to the communities in which he serves. He became a pioneer for his support of the United States military, many years before the concept became commonplace among others in the restaurant industry.
In 1999, Odom organized a free “thank you” dinner for active and retired United States military members at his restaurants in four states. His idea of honoring the military for their service was the driving force for Golden Corral to implement this practice across all its locations nationally two years later. In 18 years of hosting “Military Appreciation Night”, Golden Corral has provided more than 5.7 million free meals for active and retired military members while raising more than $15.7 for Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Odom’s restaurants alone have served more than 324,000 free meals and raised more than $2.2 million for DAV during its 20 years of hosting the event.
Odom’s support of the military and their families extends beyond the annual Military Appreciation Night. Since 2012, Odom’s restaurant group has raised a total of $766,956 to support Camp Corral, a free summer camp for children of wounded, injured, ill or fallen military families.
“I am honored to win the Community Leadership Award and I want to thank Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine,” said Odom. “I have always felt it is important to be an active part of the community in which you serve. Whether it is showing appreciation for members of the military or helping future leaders in the restaurant industry, it is extremely gratifying to be able to make an impact for others in our local communities.”
Generous Education Funding
Beyond his charitable support of the military, Odom is committed to shaping the future of the restaurant industry. In 2018, he gave the largest ever individual gift to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation in support of ProStart, a national program teaching high school students the culinary techniques and management skills to prepare them for careers in the restaurant field. The donation will be used to enhance the ProStart program in the Hampton Roads area. It will also provide direct investments in local classrooms to ensure that students have the training and work readiness skills needed for success in Virginia’s growing hospitality industry.
Odom is passionate about giving low-income and disadvantaged students access to education in culinary arts and restaurant management. In December 2018, he made a seven-figure donation to Tidewater Community College, which will build its Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management school in his name. His gift will also be used to provide scholarships for dual enrollment students from Norfolk Public Schools studying restaurant management.
“We congratulate Hu Odom and all of the dedicated and outstanding franchisees,” said Therese Thilgen, CEO of Franchise Update Media, publisher of Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine. “These are the kinds of business operators who inspire others with their vision, leadership, and success.”
Odom will attend the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference, March 24-26 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He will participate in several of the conference’s events and formally accept his award at the General Session Award Ceremony on the morning of March 26.
Each year, Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine selects MVP winners across 11 different categories. The Multi-Unit Franchisee Conference and Magazine MVP Awards honor the best and the brightest multi-unit franchisees - the power operators, the innovators, the creative thinkers who have demonstrated outstanding performance in growing both their organizations and their brands.