Lisa Clifft has been a player in the restaurant industry since the early ‘80s. She started at McDonald’s, the world’s leading fast-food chain, and worked her way up from Crew Member to Operations Director.
Operating 70 stores, Clifft spent over 30 years at McDonald’s, watching the corporation evolve in price, product and size around the world. “I was just a teenager when I started at McDonald’s, and at the time, I didn’t think I would be there for long. Little did know, I would spend most of my career there,” Clifft notes. With so much invested in the company, Clifft planned to retire under McDonald’s until a change in management led her a different direction. Now she is the owner of Tacos 4 Life in Collierville, an Arkansas-based franchise that is known for creating craft tacos for a cause.
“You know, I think things happen for a reason. One day, I just happened to go into a Tacos 4 Life in Little Rock, Arkansas and someone said, ‘Hey, you ought to buy this place. They have great tacos!’ After I found out it raised money for hungry children, I was sold,” Clifft says.
A couple years later, Clifft invited her daughters on board, turning the new restaurant into a family affair. “Working together comes with challenges, but when it comes down to it, we feel really blessed to work with each other,” Clifft smiles. “My two youngest daughters actually work in the restaurant, while my oldest daughter manages my bookkeeping.” Reflecting on their grand opening, Clifft talks about training 58 staff members and working 18-hour shifts, so she could get the business off the ground.
As she reminds us, owning a restaurant is never easy, but it comes with its rewards too.
“Truly, the most rewarding part about my job is developing the young professionals that I work with. Since we’ve opened, I’ve promoted three leaders from our restaurant,” Clifft explains.
With her staff, Clifft is changing the reputation of fast-food restaurants by serving healthy meals with fresh ingredients. The fried chicken taco, Korean BBQ bowl, and chicken bacon ranch quesadilla are just a few of the restaurant’s staple items. A tasty alternative, the seared tofu taco accommodates vegetarian customers.
For Tacos 4 Life, it is all in the name. Twenty-four cents out of every meal goes to Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit organization that serves families from 70 developing nations. Vitamin-enriched vegetables and grains are then packaged and shipped by volunteers at what they call a “mobile pack.” In the future, Clifft says she hopes to host one of these volunteer events in Collierville.
“That is where it all comes together. You feel a sense of purpose that shows you really are making a difference,” Clifft reflects.
Tacos 4 Life is located at 3565 S Houston Levee Rd, Collierville, TN. If you dine-in, there is a good chance you’ll see a smiling face, getting to know each and every one who walks through the door. That is when you know you met the owner, Lisa Clifft.