Chick-fil-A is finally landing in downtown Miami.
The College Park, Georgia-based chain will open on the first floor of MiamiCentral, the Brightline's Miami station. The 3,000-square-foot restaurant will be located on the first-floor retail promenade, on Fifth Street and First Avenue.
Originally slated to open in the spring, the new Chick-fil-A is a licensed outlet that will be run by Phillips Concessions, a Black-owned food-and-beverage operator.
In addition to the new store, Phillips is a licensee of MiamiCentral's Einstein Bros. Bagels and Starbucks locations, the latter managed in partnership with NBA champion and Miami Heat player, Udonis Haslem.
Phillips CEO Ramona D. Hall tells New Times that even though foot traffic downtown has dropped significantly owing to the pandemic, prolonging the process of reaching her projections for the new businesses, they're a worthwhile investment in the community.
"The stores employ people who did not have jobs and who felt disconnected. We are giving them an opportunity to develop themselves," Hall says, noting that Chick-fil-A alone will employ three dozen people. "Strong, established brands can lend a sense of comfort and normalcy to the population," she adds.
There are about 20 Chick-fil-A locations in South Florida, including six in Miami-Dade — at Dadeland Mall, Florida International University (closed for remodeling), Doral, Miami Lakes, Flagler Park, and Aventura (debuted yesterday).
The chain was named top fast-food restaurant in Newsweek's 2019 America’s Best Customer Service report and was recognized in QSR’s 2019 Reader’s Choice Awards, including nods for “The Most Admired Quick-Service Brand” and “Best Brand for Overall Experience.”
But Chick-fil-A has also been dogged by notoriety for its politics. The chain, which is famously closed on Sundays, has funded Christian groups opposed to gay marriage. In November 2019, following protests from LGBTQ organizations, the company stopped funding the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — two religiously affiliated groups that have opposed gay marriage. The Chick-fil-A Foundation now focuses on ending hunger and homelessness and furthering education.
Despite the controversies, many customers find that the lure of Chick-fil-A's sandwiches outweighs social issues. In a CNN interview this past March, then-presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg said of Chick-fil-A, "I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken."
MiamiCentral's Chick-fil-A location will feature the latest store advancements and serve its signature breaded chicken breast sandwich, as well as nuggets, waffle potato fries, and hand-spun milkshakes, and breakfast items.
The restaurant is set to open any day now, though an exact date has not been announced. Social-distance regulations will prevent the new store to throw Chick-fil-A's customary opening-day celebration, but the new location will offer in-store giveaways throughout the day. Guests can choose to partake of their meals in the 35-seat indoor dining area or on the outdoor covered patio, or take advantage of contactless carry-out. First responders will receive a 10 percent discount on their food and beverage purchases through 2020.
Chick-fil-A at Virgin MiamiCentral. 550 NW First Ave., Miami; 786-359-4813; www.chick-fil-a.com. 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call to confirm the franchise has opened.
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