The American Dream Is Alive In Vegas
Entrepreneur|Startups Fall 2017
A refugee comes to the U.S., builds a drive-in burger mini-empire.
Lydia Belanger

You never know whom you’ll find working at Checkers. Take Nick Nasrollahi, a part owner of seven locations. He fled his home country of Iran in 1985, when he was 18—making a seven-day journey across the mountainous desert on foot, by camel, and eventually in the back of a sympathetic smuggler’s pickup truck. He almost didn’t make it. A group of soldiers detained him on day three and took his money. On day six, they left him in an underground bunker with nothing to eat but a rotten orange. The smuggler got him out, though, and by donning a woman’s burqa that completely covered him, Nasrollahi snuck past Pakistani border guards. He sought asylum in Pakistan and soon made it to the U.S., where he built a career in the quick-service-restaurant industry. Nasrollahi spent 20 years at Jack in the Box, holding 11 different positions in Los Angeles and Las Vegas before looking into franchising himself in 2007.

When you got to the U.S., you tried both pro soccer and computer science. How did you wind up in quick-service food?

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