D’Andre Baca’s career with Taco Bell began with a walk down the street in the rain at the urging of his mom, who wanted him to go out and get a job. He was 16 at the time and going through a rough period in high school, he recalls.
Though D’Andre didn’t secure a job after his first interview, with the second, he says the GM was willing “to take a chance with me.”
That was 2008. He remembers that day like it was yesterday and considers it a launching point.
“If that day didn’t happen the way it did,” he says. “I wouldn’t probably even be here. Who knows what path I would have taken at that point.”
Today, D’Andre celebrates the of his promotion to Reflecting on how he got here, he expresses gratitude to past leaders and mentors in his life for pushing him. He says he had the “right leaders” come into his life at the right time, investing in him, encouraging him to take leadership classes, building him up.
DRG acquired the Kansas City market in 2017. D’Andre was a general manager at the time and recalls there was fear about the change in ownership. He’d been with the same company for 11 years! Yet, there was comfort in the idea that “it’s still tacos.”
With the change in ownership, D’Andre immediately noticed a difference in company culture. He says DRG led with a more hands-on approach. He had the opportunity to meet the vice president and owners very early on, and still gets tapped regularly for advice and input. “Makes me feel like I’m contributing,” he says, reflecting on how nice it feels to be appreciated in the workplace.
According to D’Andre, DRG is 100 percent focused on people. This is exhibited in the company’s commitment to developing its employees into future leaders. He says there’s a big push in 2022 to get DRG’s rising stars into AGM and GM workshops to help develop more Area Coaches. In addition to professional development opportunities, DRG is also beefing up its employee benefits by rolling out new incentive programs.
“We’re always thinking of ways to be better, always asking for input,” he says. “We really care about our people… you can see some of the smiles behind the counters when you come through.”
What does the future hold for D’Andre? You can tell he’s an extremely motivated guy.
“I’m going to run the whole city one day… I am Mr. Taco Bell,” he says without a hint of arrogance. “I don’t plan on leaving, I plan on running the Kansas City area. If they give me the opportunity, I won’t let them down.”