Lee Ann Johnston To Receive USC Upstate Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award

December 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm

The University of South Carolina Upstate Alumni Association will present the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award to Lee Ann Johnston at the Convocation Honoring December Graduates on Tuesday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, when 450 graduates receive their degrees. Johnston will also deliver the keynote address.

Criteria for the Distinguished Alumni Award include outstanding career accomplishments, service to local community and the University. Lee Ann, a 1980 graduate, received a Bachelor of Science degree in interdisciplinary studies. She and her husband, Allen Johnston, serve as principals of three management companies that operate numerous restaurants in the Upstate and beyond.

While dating in high school, Lee Ann and Allen met Jerry Richardson, the well-known majority owner of the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise. When Richardson met Lee Ann, he served in an executive position with the Transworld Corporation and owned a number of restaurants across the Upstate. He recruited Lee Ann to work for his initial franchised concept, Hardee’s Hamburgers. After graduating from USCS, she accepted a position as Richardson’s administrative assistant, and her husband Allen became a district manager overseeing five Quincy’s restaurants based in Spartanburg, S.C.

In the fall of 1984, Richardson approached Lee Ann and Allen about pursuing the acquisition of franchise rights for Fuddruckers restaurants in the Carolinas. The Johnstons opened the first Fuddruckers in Spartanburg on September 5, 1985, operating under their newly formed The Butcher The Baker Company. The company has subsequently owned and operated a number of Fuddruckers franchises throughout the Carolinas and Tennessee.

More recently, Lee Ann and Allen have opened two Bojangles franchises in the Upstate, under the corporate name of Chix and Bix, LLC. Their original Fuddruckers restaurant in Spartanburg celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.

Lee Ann currently serves as Chief Financial Officer of The Butcher The Baker Companies; Piedmont Restaurant Group, LLC; and Chix and Bix, LLC; and in 2007 was honored with the South Carolina Restaurateur of the Year Award. She is active in the community and has given of her time and energy to benefit USC Upstate students by speaking at job fairs and other functions on campus.

The University of South Carolina Upstate, a coeducational, public, comprehensive metropolitan institution, is located conveniently along the thriving economic I-85 corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte. USC Upstate is among the fastest growing universities in South Carolina—with a 330-acre campus in Spartanburg, a senior level commuter-campus at the University Center of Greenville that enrolls more than 1,000 students each year, and the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics in downtown Spartanburg that opened in May 2010.

The University is fully accredited to offer degree programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Schools of Business, Education and Nursing, and the graduate division. Overall enrollment is 5,500 students, which reflects the diversity of the region with 71 nations represented among the student population.  Additionally, the USC Upstate Spartans were reclassified in 2007–2008 for National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I and now compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference.