SYLACAUGA -- Local Chick-fil-A franchise owner Micah Harris opened his restaurant 14 days ago with 80 team members.
The opening was a record-breaker for the Birmingham region.
The restaurant is in the new Marble City Square shopping center on U.S. 280.
Harris spoke to the Leadership Sylacauga graduating class about his new franchise and being a part of the Chick-fil-A family Thursday evening at the B.B. Comer Memorial Library. His wife, Angela, attended the event with him.
Harris and his wife were born and raised in Fultondale. They are excited to be back close to their roots. The two met when they were 13 and got married while seniors in college. They have two children.
The franchise owner said the Sylacauga Chick-fil-A restaurant was the highest grossing grand opening in more than 10 years in the Birmingham region.
He thanked everyone for supporting the new business and talked about how he operates his franchise.
Harris began working for Chick-fil-A at 17 for franchise owner Mike Holmes, whom he met while working in a bookstore in his hometown. Harris worked for Holmes for eight years.
Holmes encouraged Harris to pursue becoming a Chick-fil-A operator.
Inspired by Holmes, Harris began pursuing his dream. He entered into Chick-fil-A’s Leadership Development Program, traveling around the country to help open and run restaurants for several years.
Harris, thanks in part to his love for the brand and the opportunities provided to him, was selected as operator/owner for the Coastland Center Mall restaurant in Naples, Florida, in February 2014.
His efforts with Chick-fil-A in Naples earned Harris and his team the company’s Champions Club award for outstanding sales increases.
From Naples, Harris became the franchise owner of the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Sylacauga.
Harris said he learned lessons about running a restaurant from Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy.
“He honored God and treated everyone with honor and dignity, and he closed his restaurants on Sunday,” Harris said.
Cathy made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946, when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Cathy saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship, if they choose -- a practice Chick-fil-A continues today.
Harris gave a brief history of Cathy and Chick-fil-A to those attending the graduation dinner.
“I run my business the same way,” Harris said. “I glorify God and I am a faithful steward. I believe this is important in my life and this is how I am running my business in Sylacauga.
“I have employees that never cooked a chicken sandwich before 14 days ago. They have come in early and worked late. I am proud to have this team around me.”
Harris also said he runs his restaurant similar to Coach Nick Saban’s process, where structure is important. He has a general manager that reports to him, coordinators who manage different departments, assistant coaches and team members.
The new owner leads his business by honoring God and being committed to his faith. He believes God has a hand in what has happened to him over the last three years.
Harris said his team in Sylacauga sells chicken, but it also has a purpose to improve someone’s life every day.
“Our ambition is to improve lives in our community and to be in partnerships with others here,” he said. “We want to improve the lives of our guests and our team members. The team is learning responsibility, and I hope Chick-fil-A can play a small role in their lives.”
Laura Strickland, executive director of the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors Leadership Sylacauga, said she met Harris and his wife about a year ago.
“When they walked in the door, they were new faces I didn’t know,” Strickland said. “Micah said he was one of five finalists for the franchise owner/operator for Sylacauga’s Chick-fil-A. That is when I knew for sure Sylacauga was getting a Chick-fil-A. We are so excited to have Micah and Angela in Sylacauga.”
More on the Leadership Sylacauga graduation will appear in The Daily Home this weekend.