Ben Prine

Cookeville’s Chicken Slinging Servant

Cookeville’s Most Influential People – Class of 2022

Ben Prine is much more than a Chick-fil-a franchise owner. The Knoxville-born and raised businessman has stayed on a focused trajectory since he started working at the popular chicken joint at 14 years old. Prine continued to work at Chick-fil-a throughout high school and college at the University of Tennessee and snagged a gig at the corporate office after college. “I was living out of hotels, opening new stores on the west coast when the Cookeville location became available. I thought, this is my chance to get closer to home.”
Ben acquired the Cookeville Chick-Fil-A in 2007 and had an uphill battle ahead of him. He went back to the drawing board, hired new staff, and made sure the quality of food was faultless. Ben quickly turned the once suffering business into one of Cookeville’s most bustling fast-food joints as we know it today.
But Ben’s ambitious nature did not stop at acquiring the Cookeville location. He quickly became immersed in the community and found ways Chick-fil-a could positively impact its needs. “I always try to keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the community. For me, it’s not always about writing a check, but rather questioning what I can provide food-wise,” Ben said of his deep ties to different organizations in Cookeville.
From sending food to first responders who are battling a big fire, to providing meals to the volunteers of the 2020 tornado clean-up crew, the generous business owner always looks for creative ways to care for our community through food.
On top of donating food to several local organizations, Ben may just be the dream boss. In 2019, Chick-fil-a underwent two months of renovations. “I thought I can’t just put these adults and college kids whose primary paycheck is through us on unemployment.” Ben had the foresight to begin putting money away for two years leading up to the renovations and cleverly found a solution to the shutdown. “I told them, we are going to do volunteer work, but I’m going to pay you for it.” His employees volunteered at the Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity, the Animal Shelter, the Stevens Street Care Center, and more while still making the same hourly wage they made at Chick-fil-a.
“I want to be a servant leader and to set an example for my team,” Ben said of his leadership tactics. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to give back to the community and want to be one of the most caring businesses in Cookeville.”
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