Amber Thomas is blazing a unique, very San Diego path in San Diego County.
Thomas, who calls Spring Valley home, is the county's first Black owner and operator of a Chick-Fil-A franchise, which opened on opened July 7 on state Route 125 and Jamacha Road.
“The journey began at a Chick-Fil-A in Point Loma where I started when I was 17 years old,” Thomas told NBC 7.
The 12-year or so trek began as a job but led to a career.
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“I had no intentions on being with Chick-Fil-A long-term," Thomas said. "I thought it was going to be a clock-in, clock-out kind of job. I was majoring in kinesiology and wanted to be a physical therapist in the military, and just fell in love with Chick-Fil-A and fell in love with the people aspect of it, and the idea of having ownership.”
Becoming a Chick-Fil-A Franchisee is challenging — in fact, less than 1% of Chick-Fil-A franchisee applicants become owners.
Thomas, who is a San Diego State University graduate, was born in Virginia and moved all over the U.S. with her military family, living in Washington state and Hawaii before settling in San Diego.
Thomas’ ties to Spring Valley fuel her drive to shape the community.
“The vision for the restaurant that I create is: I want to leave our mark in Chick-Fil-A," Thomas said. "I want to leave our mark in the Spring Valley community by creating opportunity and impact through growing a restaurant team and community."
The Spring Valley location employs 140 people and serves about 35,000 orders per week.
Thomas wants this step in her career to be only the first of many more to come, including ownership of more Chick-Fil-A locations.
“I would love to," Thomas said. "Absolutely. Absolutely yes. I’ve gotta figure out this one first, but once we figure out this one, I would love to do that."