SPRING VALLEY, Calif. (KGTV) – It’s hustling and bustling day at the Spring Valley Chick-fil-A. Amber Thomas is no stranger to greeting customers at the restaurant chain.
"I started working at Chick-fil-A off Sports Arena Boulevard when I was 17-years-old,” Thomas said.
On Friday, Thomas was offering words of encouragement to new employees. Telling them to be excited and shake off the nerves they may have.
And Thomas has a reason to be excited.
It’s not only is it this Chick-fil-A's opening week But after Thomas climbed many rungs of the corporate ladder at the popular fried chicken chain, the Spring Valley resident is running and owning the place in an area she knows all too well.
"I never thought coming into this parking lot saying like, 'Hey, one day I'm going to own and operate a Chick-fil-A in this location.' So, it goes back to making it feel surreal. I'm still trying to register the fact that I'm here, that I'm serving this community,” Thomas said.
Thomas credits her drive to her mom, grandmother, and family. Her mom said being an owner wasn't her daughter's original plan in life.
"She wanted to be a physical therapist and she was adamant about that. She was like, 'No, mom. I'm not going to be a Chick-fil-A owner,' and then it just got in her blood. Her sister inspired her to be an owner and it went from there,” Monica Hopkins, Thomas’ mother, said.
It's also big to Thomas for other black women like her to see that they can get there too.
"I've had so many come in and provide support and saying like, 'Hey, it is great to see someone who looks like me running a restaurant and owning a restaurant in our community,” Thomas said.
If Thomas could tell her 17-year-old self some good advice, it might sound like what she's telling her employees now.
"I would just tell her that keep doing what you're doing, work hard, and you'll be so proud of yourself later on down the line,” Thomas said.