Young business owner brings burgers, chicken, fries and homemade sauces to the food court lineup.
I was at the Governors’ Square mall last week for the first time since March 2020 and I finally had the chance to try Lovett’s, the new, local addition to the food court.
Right next to Cinnabon and surrounded by chains, Lovett’s Burgers, Chicken & Fries is owned by Gabriel Lovett, 25, a graduate of Florida A&M University.
“I like to start something different,” said Gabriel, who opened the space on May 1, 2021.
Lovett’s is different in a few ways from the other food court operations. Aside from being local, Gabriel is the only Black-owned restaurant space at the food court.
Gabriel specializes in chicken wings, chicken tenders, burgers and fries, which he calls sidekicks. Only the fries have been frozen, he said. You can taste the difference.
Housemade sauces give customers more options, adding a special taste to each item. You can also get combos like the “Doo Wop That thing,” with burger, chicken tenders and fries.
My friend and I had lunch at Lovett’s and we both decided to get chicken tenders. My platter brought four large, lightly-battered pieces and a mound of fries. I ordered the savory Western sauce on the side. My friend doesn’t like anything spicy and ordered the tenders and fries with the Carolina Gold sauce on the side.
An employee told us they had mistakenly gave her a garlic Parmesan sauce and put it atop the chicken instead of on the side. The employee apologized profusely and offered to give her another platter. Instead, I switched with my friend and took the tenders with the garlic Parmesan sauce. I was happy I did because the garlic parmesan sauce was really good, quite flavorful.
Other sauces have musical names like “Reggae,” “Gospel Music” and “Rock N Roll.”
Chicken tenders are often dry, but Lovett’s were crisp and juicy. We also liked the french fries — and Lovett’s serves a generous amount.
Gabriel said the overhead is high at the mall but otherwise considers opening there a good decision. He spent years working toward the dream of opening his own restaurant business. Gabriel worked as a party and event promoter in the past and began selling food out of his apartment while he was a senior at FAMU.
“At school I noticed that the South Side didn’t have many restaurants except for McDonalds, so I thought you can’t go wrong with burgers, chicken and fries.”
A professor later offered him the chance to operate out of his home, and for two years, Gabriel searched for funding. He eventually secured a FAMU Credit Union microloan to help him on his path.
It’s great to find a local restaurant in the food court. We’ll be looking for more hits on our next visit.