Tamela Thornton

Co-Founder/Principal – ESmith Legacy

Tamela Thornton, who serves as co-founder and principal of ESmith Legacy, has over 25 years of real estate related experience including site selection, market analysis for new business development, store location planning, lease negotiation, and construction project management. In her present role, Thornton oversees ESmith Legacy’s Alternative Investment Division, which acquires existing franchise assets and/or development rights in the Food & Beverage, Hospitality, Retail Services, and Entertainment & Lifestyle industry classes. Additionally, she leads the market feasibility / site selection strategy and development services initiatives for the team. Her responsibilities include oversight of all aspects of ESmith Legacy’s retail and mixed-use projects nationally.
Prior to joining ESmith Legacy, Thornton formed Bronzegate Development Services, LLC in 2006 to provide consulting services for franchised businesses and small developers in the areas of strategic planning, defining new location development criteria and site selection. Clients have included retailers and developers.
Early in her career at YUM!, Thornton generated over $19 million in new store sales with an average return of 17 percent for the Taco Bell brand. She also developed site selection criteria and analysis techniques to identify optimal market penetration for the restaurant brands in both traditional and non-traditional settings. She has worked in many of the major U.S. markets, as well as internationally in markets as diverse as China, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru and the Caribbean.
At Starbucks Coffee Company, Thornton managed the real estate and construction team for one of the fastest growing regions in the country. Her team delivered over 65 stores annually while developing a strong project pipeline that has positioned Starbucks for continued growth in Texas and Oklahoma. These deals generated over $70 million in top-line sales for the company.
Thornton holds BA and MA degrees in Regional Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, she holds the CCIM designation. She is on the executive board of the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, and an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Services of Hope and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.