Chicken lovers at the University of Miami were pleasantly surprised by UM Dining Service’s decision to open a poultry-centric restaurant on UM’s Coral Gables campus. Miami Chicken Company has replaced the now-closed Burger 305, conveniently located at the Lakeside-front of the Hurricane food court.
Ana Alvarez, the executive director of auxiliary services for UM Dining, said the decision to replace Burger 305 was made after a performance assessment of the restaurant concepts on campus.
“Burger 305 was declining in sales and industry trends were identifying an interest in a chicken concept,” Alvarez said. “We do surveys annually, and we know that chicken is always of interest with our students.”
UM and its food-service partner, Chartwells, worked together to determine what restaurants would perform well on campus, Alvarez said, using student feedback to develop the idea of an in-house, chicken-branded eatery.
“We agreed on new concepts, and during COVID, we had time to really explore what a chicken concept might look like,” Alvarez said. “We sampled and taste-tested a variety of our chefs’ creations and also focused on offering a nice complimentary fry and selection of sauces.”
Alvarez said the opening of Miami Chicken Company was well received, with promising sales numbers compared to Burger 305. The name, Alvarez said, was decided through a partnership with student government.
Since its opening, Miami Chicken Company has drawn mixed reviews from students. Charley Pollard, a sophomore majoring in music performance, said he has found a new favorite meal on campus: the Mac and Cheese Waffle Cone.
“The texture is very good, and the chicken is very well fried and super tasty,” said Pollard. “The sweetness of the waffle cone and the savory flavor of the mac and cheese really makes a difference, especially with the spiciness of the buffalo sauce.”
Pollard said he was thrilled by the restaurant’s unique interpretation of classic southern chicken and waffles.
“The three different flavor combinations make it so good.”
After trying the new option on campus, Greeshma Venigalla, a senior majoring in neuroscience, said she was unsatisfied with the quality of her buffalo chicken wrap, but added that there are likely better options on the restaurant’s menu.
“It was just very underwhelming. I was excited for the chicken place, and I thought it would be good, but it was just bleh,” Venigalla said. “Honestly, I probably need to give it another chance because I got the same thing twice, so maybe other things are good.”
Venigalla compared her wrap to the pre-made items at The Market, UM’s on campus grocery formerly known as Outtakes.
“I feel like it was the same meal I could get at Outtakes,” said Venigalla. “ I felt like I was paying a meal price for something I’d get with a meal swipe at Outtakes.”
Kyle Rowley, a senior majoring in microbiology and immunology, biochemistry and molecular biology, echoed Venigalla’s thoughts.
“ I went there expecting it to be like a non-branded Popeyes or Chick-fil-a, so the thing I was looking for was a chicken sandwich and they didn’t even have that,” said Rowley.
Additionally, Miami Chicken Company is the first cashier-less location on campus. When Rowley visited, it was not functioning, he said, but the issue has since been resolved.
“The service was pretty quick. It was more that I was disappointed by the food,” said Rowley.
Despite some mixed reviews, Alvarez said she hopes that students will enjoy their new offerings and give feedback to help improve the restaurant as it wraps up its first month of service.
“We really love the design and offerings at MCC,” Alvarez said. “We are proud and hope our students will continue to enjoy this new brand.”
Jess Diez contributed to the reporting for this article.