Church’s Chicken CEO Jim Hyatt Reaches New Heights with Climb of Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro

Church's Chicken CEO Jim Hyatt Reaches New Heights with Climb of Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro

Church’s Restaurant Support Center Team Helped Him Reach the Top

Jim Hyatt knows all about setting goals and achieving success. At an early age, he had his eye on the prize while working at a quick-service restaurant (QSR) as part of the crew. In a short amount of time, Hyatt knew he wanted to own his own business and impart the same kind of inspiration that many people in his life had done for him. Jim’s journey of success continued when he became a top QSR franchisee with 12 restaurants. After being recruited to head up operations for the franchisor, Jim sold his restaurants and transitioned into a corporate role as Chief of Global Operations. Since joining Church’s Chicken as its Chief Executive Officer, Jim has set global business goals for the brand and its 25,000 employees worldwide. But, his personal goals have always been just that – personal – until recently.

“A long-standing mentor of mine proposed a challenge to me,” said Church’s Jim Hyatt. “He suggested that while setting goals and inspiring people at Church’s is job number one, it’s just as important to do the same on a personal level. And by opening up and sharing this with others, it can only strengthen relationships and inspire people, no matter what they are working to achieve in both their professional and personal lives.”

The challenge was setting what some might view as a stretch goal for Hyatt – climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. While Hyatt is an avid golfer who is on the course whenever time allows, he’s not an endurance athlete known for running marathons or weekend rock climbing. At 57, Jim’s been in restaurants most of his life which takes a great deal of stamina, but not the same kind required to climb almost 20,000 feet and deal with extreme climate and altitude changes. And, being a cancer survivor made this challenge for Jim even more important as he set out to prove that he was physically, emotionally and spiritually determined to make it to the top. Jim and his wife Christa joined a team of five other couples all with the same personal goals and all with their eyes on the same prize – reaching the top of the highest free standing mountain on Planet Earth.

“We trained for the climb but as the trip to Tanzania got closer, I started to have second thoughts,” said Hyatt. “I had shared with Church’s Restaurant Support Center Team the news about us making the climb. The Church’s team was constantly sharing words of encouragement and telling me that I’ve inspired them to establish and work to achieve their own personal goals and that made me even more determined. I knew I couldn’t let myself or my team down.”

Jim decided that he wanted this personal journey to also have a higher purpose. He reached out and asked the team at Church’s headquarters in Atlanta to help inspire him even more by pledging a nominal amount for every one hundred feet that Jim climbed. Every dollar pledged would be donated to Church’s Partners Foundation, the company’s employees and franchisees assistance program that supports its members during times of crisis and financial needs. Hyatt told the team he would personally match all donations. The Church’s team rallied around their chief, made their pledges and signed a Church’s Chicken flag that Jim and Christa would take to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro – not only as proof that they made it – but also to proudly share the value of having the support of the Church’s team.

“I had a solar charger for my iPhone and every so often, the Church’s team and family members would ping me and that truly kept me and Christa motivated as well as others on the team when we shared the sentiments,” continued Hyatt. “When we reached the top and unfurled the Church’s Chicken flag there were no words that could truly describe this achievement.”

Most people who know Jim Hyatt on a personal or professional level also know that he goes out of his way to stay away from the spotlight. Hyatt spent a considerable amount of time debating about sharing his journey with people outside of his circle of friends and family. He soon realized that imparting the story of his challenging experience and how valuable it was for him to continue to set personal and business goals, then it would be worth sharing so others could do the same.

A few days after the climb, Jim concluded, “The Kilimanjaro climb has encouraged me to do more, support more, encourage more, lead more, expect more, and challenge more of myself and others, knowing that additional accomplishments are within us all if we push ourselves. We can all do more and give more of ourselves to support our passions and our responsibilities.”

Pledges of support continue to be counted and are still coming in to Church’s Chicken headquarters.

Founded in San Antonio, TX in 1952, Church’s Chicken is a highly recognized brand name in the Quick Service Restaurant sector and is one of the largest quick service chicken concepts in the world. Church’s serves up a rich tradition of gracious Southern hospitality and freshly prepared, high quality, authentic home-style fare, to help people provide affordable, complete meals for their families. Church’s menu includes flavorful chicken both Original and Spicy and Tender Strips and sandwiches with classic sides and hand-made from scratch honey-butter biscuits. The Church’s system consists of more than 1700 locations in 25 countries and system-wide sales of more than $1 billion. For more information on Church’s Chicken, visit