Before she became a successful entrepreneur, Edith Kelly-Green worked for almost 30 years in the button-down, suit-and-tie world of corporate America.
The Oxford native spent 26 of those years as a FedEx vice-president.
“When I retired from FedEx at 50, I retired to do nothing, which I did for a short time,” she said.
But Kelly-Green’s days of whiling away the hours in retirement mode soon ended.
Her daughter, Jayna, who was a student at Rhodes College in Memphis, remarked that she was quite fond of a local submarine sandwich shop and suggested her mother look into investing in a Lenny’s franchise.
“I’d read in the paper that Lenny Moore had sold the business to the Alvord family,” said Kelly-Green. “I was leaning more towards being an investor but as fate would have it, the store in my hometown of Oxford happened to be for sale.”
Suddenly, the former FedEx executive became officially un-retired when she purchased the Oxford location.
Today, Kelly-Green is Lenny’s leading lady. Together with her daughter, she now owns a company-record 11 franchises located in Oxford, Batesville, Nashville and Memphis.
One of her prize restaurants is located in the Memphis airport, and is considered one of Lenny’s highest-producing locations.
“The great thing about the airport store is that you have a captive audience,” she said. “It doesn’t require a lot of marketing. But we have wonderful employees who offer great service.”
In fact, the store is extremely popular with flight crews.
“They call in their orders from the plane prior to landing,” Kelly-Green added.
Brent Alvord, president of Lenny’s Franchisor, LLC, says Kelly-Green is the ultimate franchise owner for the Memphis-based company.
“She’s done a great job and is outstanding at unifying her team,” he said. “Edith always tries to satisfy the customer and she’s very active with her stores in the community, helping out non-profits and making food donations.
“Edith follows the Lenny’s formula for success.”
Growing up in Oxford, Kelly-Green says her grandmother wanted her to be a teacher.
“I had no exposure to the business world as a child in the 1950s,” she said.
But the personable Kelly-Green earned an accounting degree at the University of Mississippi and became a CPA for a national firm. However, it was FedEx where she absorbed the ABCs of the business world.
“Working for (FedEx CEO) Fred Smith, I learned business from the best,” she said. “The things I learned at FedEx, such as how to market, human resources and the whole administrative side, have served me well as a Lenny’s franchise owner.”
One of the fastest-growing sub sandwich chains in the country, Lenny’s continues to expand throughout the United States.
Alvord says the Lenny’s formula is simple.
“Our first priority is our guests – when you first walk into a Lenny’s, guests should always be greeted with a welcome and a smile,” he said. “It’s the personality of our brand.
Alvord says the company prides itself on the freshness of its food products.
“Our food is always prepared from scratch. When you order a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, you can be assured that it will be prepared by a team member and not pre-made and set under a hot lamp,” he said.
Walking into any Lenny’s franchise, customers might notice the lack of a visible trash receptacle.
Cleanliness is the hallmark of a Lenny’s franchise, said Alvord.
“No trash cans,” he said. “It’s a reasonable expectation when you come to one of our stores that a guest comes to eat a great meal and enjoy time with friends and family. Cleaning up is our job – our guests are our guests.”
For Kelly-Green, owning several quick-service food franchises isn’t about income.
“I’m a big believer in wealth and creating a legacy and a partnership for my family’s future,” she said. “I really like the Lenny’s culture — just follow the rules, procedures and practices and you will be successful.”
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