Breaking News
More () »

From Chick-Fil-A employee to owner | San Diego woman becomes only Black Chick-fil-A operator in the county

Spring Valley now has a Chick-fil-A, but that's not the only thing customers in the area are excited about. Many have been dropping by to meet the new owner.

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. — Looking back on a 13-year journey from Chick-fil-A cashier to now owner, Amber Thomas is at a loss of words.

"It is humbling, and it is surreal. It has not hit me all the way yet,” Thomas said.

Thomas is a Serra Mesa High School and San Diego State graduate, who has lived all across the country from Virginia to Hawaii when her father served in the U.S. Navy.

Thomas has worked every job at the Sports Arena Boulevard Chick-Fil-A for eight and a half years from team member and cook to manager.

"Thought it was just going to be a clock in, clock out kind of job, I had no intentions on being with Chick-fil-A long-term,” Thomas said.

Thomas says then-owner/operator Matt Hughes in Pt. Loma  really inspired her to want to become an owner operator, so she started the Chick-fil-A operations internship and then joined the leadership development program of 160 people, and she was one of three Black women.

"When you go around the country and you meet other little boys and girls [who] look like you, and they are saying, 'I didn't know that this was ever an option for me,'” Thomas said.

Now running the restaurant at Highway 125 and Jamacha Road is Amber's dream come true.

The first Chick-fil-A in Spring Valley is bringing excitement to customers.

"Man, we have been waiting a long time for some good eateries around here,” said customer Joe Rice.

The restaurant has a 100-seat dining room, two drive through lines and 140 employees from 15 years old to 55 years old, the majority all live in the area.

"The sense of community in Spring Valley and just the support that I have had has been unmatched,” Thomas said.

Thomas is already becoming a Chick-fil-A celebrity and her restaurant opening has dominated discussions on the Black San Diego Facebook group as Thomas is the only Black Chick-fil-A owner in San Diego County.

"I remember coming here for the first time, I had no idea that she was going to be the operator, I was coming in happy and excited that this is going to be you know my new Chick-fil-A, and then I was like wait, that is a black woman. Okay yes, I was very happy,” said customer Danielle Tucker.

Working from 14 to 16 hours a day, Thomas hopes to inspire the next local Chick-fil-A owner.

"I was a team member, and I can still get down in the kitchen, and I can still clean a toilet, and I can still do all those things, and I will because I am not above anyone here,” Thomas said.

Watch Related: Black doctor paving the way for younger generations (Feb 8, 2022)

Before You Leave, Check This Out