Take 5 is a meetup with a local entrepreneur.
When Sam “The Bull” Ali moved to the Yakima Valley in 2013, he decided he was going to leave his mark on the community.
Along with charitable work such as donating and serving meals at Camp Hope, Ali also owns the Firing Center Chevron just off Interstate 82 near the Yakima Training Center, which offers a full-service restaurant, Bullseye Burgers and Subs, which employs 13 people.
The Hollywood, Calif., native worked in marketing with Arco after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from California State University-Fullerton. His career took him to southern Nevada, southern Utah and western Arizona.
In 2013, he went from being a marketer to an owner, buying the gas station, which at the time had a Subway franchise operating inside it. In 2017, he dropped the Subway franchise and opened Bullseye Burgers and Subs.
He and his wife, Raehdi Zayed, have two children, Jack and Skowkeya.
How did Bullseye Burgers and Subs get started?
In March 2017, I decided to debrand the Subway franchise at the Firing Center Chevron and institute my own brand, a unique blend of hot and cold food that gives our customers the ultimate in variety without sacrificing quality. So, I came up with Bullseye Burgers subs and more. The reason for closing Subway was simple: Being a franchisee didn’t allow me to be unique or different. Once the shackles of corporate America were removed, it gave me the freedom to try new things and incorporate new twists on traditional foods, such as Bullseye Dirty Fries.
Were there any challenges that you had to overcome?
Initially business at Bullseye was a lot slower than the Subway franchise. However, the reason I am nicknamed The Bull is because I’m relentless, and I kept pushing, kept promoting via social media. I gave away a classic car, a motorcycle, Hawaiian vacation and had several free burger or taco days. This year we are giving away an Alaskan cruise for two to coincide with our fourth annual Bullseye hot dog eating contest. It is my firm business strategy that you always press the envelope. Keep changing or start dying is my motto.
What do you do to set yourself apart from the competition, such as fast-food restaurants?
I believe what sets me apart from other fast-food establishments is my ability to change and my commitment to my craft. I try to be at my establishment as much as I can, interacting with my customers and my 13 employees. Also, my commitment to support the local community, which supports me. Next month we are having our third annual school supply giveaway, where we give free school supplies to local children before the school year starts.
You get your hamburger buns from Viera’s Bakery & Deli in Yakima. Do you think it is important for local businesspeople to support each other?
I chose Viera’s because they were a new business at the time and I always support small-business owners such as myself, because it is my firm belief
that small businesses are
the backbone of this great country.
Is there anyone you look to as a role model as an entrepreneur?
Throughout my career I’ve had several people leave an imprint on me, but the one person who has been the biggest influence would have to be my father, Hasan Ali. My father immigrated to the United States in the late 1950s with no money in his pocket. Within six months he spoke fluent English and Spanish and made a decent living selling clothes to the farm camps in California. Within three years he had saved up enough to purchase his own business and thus began his successful career as an entrepreneur, owning several businesses in various fields. The one thing that I learned from my father is nothing comes easy in life. Work as hard as you can and, above all, be humble.