By Tamiyha Thompson and Jason Schwartz
DELRAY BEACH – Brett and Sara West drove two hours from Fort Pierce just for a hamburger on Wednesday.
“My wife and I have been following coach for more than 30 years so when we heard that he was opening this restaurant, we said we had to check it out,” said Brett Weiss, a retired engineer with Pratt and Whitney. “He was very good in football so we felt that the food has got to be as good.”
The Wests were among hundreds who visited the Shula Burger restaurant in the Delray Marketplace for the official grand opening. The restaurant joins 34 other restaurants across the United States, named after the legendary Miami Dolphins football coach.
Shula led the Miami Dolphins to two Super Bowl victories and to the National Football League’s only perfect season. He holds the NFL record for most career wins with 347 and had only two losing seasons in his 36-year career of coaching in the NFL. He has been head coach for a record six Super Bowls.
The Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony. Among the dignitaries were Delray Beach City Commissioners Adam Frankel and Shelly Petrolia.
From the doors opened until closing, a steady line of people visited the eatery. Many came to sample the food, others came to hob nob with the celebrities.
Shula, who was present for the ribbon cutting ceremony, hopes to continue his winning streak, amid a competitive restaurant industry.
“You have to have that teamwork to put it all together,” Shula said . “You have to have the owner, you have to have the coaches, you have to have the players, and then the fans are your customers.
The restaurant group is best known for operating steak houses, sports bars, airport restaurants and waterside restaurants, where the menu centers around seafood. The first restaurant with the Shula name opened in 1989.
Shula Burger also donated 5 percent of the proceeds to the Achievement Center For Children & Families. The Delray Beach-based charity provides affordable, quality care for children whose parents wouldn’t be able to keep their job or go to school without this service.
Restaurant manager Cheryl Atherley said the restaurant is in a “wonderful location.” It’s adjacent to the Florida’s Turnpike and just a few miles from Interstate 95.
Atherly also said that the shopping center is a destination point for a “wide variety of tourist,” which she thinks is great for the business.
Cheryl’s family have been in the restaurant business for 30 years, she was also the food and beverage manager at the Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach.