Written by John Sparaco
Where Are They Now?!
“When I left New England…I saw firsthand the uncertainty of the NFL and the business side of the NFL and knew for my own benefit I needed to begin to think about what my next chapter might be.”
Three years removed from his last NFL action, Kamar Aiken’s next chapter is starting to unfold in the restaurant business.
Beginning his career as an undrafted free agent out of Central Florida, Aiken had to fight his way into the spotlight, ultimately playing eight seasons combined with the Bills, Patriots, Ravens, Colts, and Eagles. Aiken’s breakout season came with the Ravens in 2015, where he recorded career highs in receptions (75), yards (944), and touchdowns (5). While he only appeared in two games with Buffalo, Aiken learned the importance of sacrificing something for a greater goal early on during his stint with the team.
“As a kid coming from Miami and living in Florida my whole life it was a major change from climate to culture, but I saw it as the first step to a greater goal and the start of my future,” said Aiken.
Little did he know that future would eventually include opening up his very own Bar and Grill. Opening a restaurant was not necessarily a dream of Aiken’s at first, but the idea of becoming a business owner always lingered towards the back of his mind. Once the opportunity presented itself, Aiken jumped at the chance.
Miami Grill and Bar, part of the Miami Grill franchise, will be the name of Aiken’s first venture into the restaurant business. Located in the city where he spent his collegiate years at UCF, Aiken will become the first to bring the Miami Grill franchise to the Orlando area.
“I grew up loving the grilled wings from Miami Grill, and lost touch with Miami Grill after leaving for college, but I would visit when I was back in town,” said Aiken. “The taste was still consistent after all those years.”
When deciding which franchise he ultimately wanted to move forward with as a business partner, Miami Grill emerged as a perfect fit right away.
“As I thought about different options, I can tell you that Miami Grill ultimately checked all of the boxes,” said Aiken. “It was a no brainer.”
Not only was Aiken a fan of the franchise’s food, but the working relationship he was able to develop with the corporate office early on has certainly helped him get started on this new journey.
“The support I receive from the corporate office is another major factor I decided to choose Miami Grill. It’s truly a team effort,” said Aiken. “They want to see each store owner be successful.”
The motto of the franchise is “Anything Goes” which clearly takes effect when it comes to their menu. Miami Grill and Bar offers a wide variety of menu options, including
Philly Cheesesteaks (“the best Philly Cheesesteaks”), chicken wings, gyros, Greek salads, fresh subs, fish, and much more.
In addition to their diverse menu, Aiken’s restaurant will also offer a full bar, wide screen TV’s and Drive-Thru services to their customers once it opens. Currently, the plan is for Miami Grill and Bar to open sometime between May and June of this year.
“I came into this venture with the mindset of creating jobs in the community, supporting local schools, sponsoring local teams, and many other outlets that get us actively involved in our local community,” Aiken added. Once Miami Grill and Bar debuts in Orlando, that dream will be able to become a reality.
However, there is much more to Aiken’s story than his success between the white lines and newfound endeavor as a business owner.
Inspired by the desire to aid children growing up in the foster care system and continue to help, guide, and inspire them through their lives as young adults, the Kamar Aiken Foundation, Inc. was created in 2012.
The foundation is a nonprofit organization with the mission to provide foster and at-risk children zero cost opportunities they might not have access to given their circumstances. Such opportunities include educational field trips, sporting events, educational and physical health services, camps, and other services to place them on the path to live a healthy, confident, and successful life. The foundation also aims to aid and assist communities struggling by poverty by providing resources directly to those in need.
Currently residing in Georgia with his wife and two children, Aiken’s devotion to operating his own nonprofit organization and his new restaurant all while balancing his family life is certain to keep him busy at all times.
Aiken recognizes the continuous generosity displayed by the Bills Mafia, especially in recent years when it comes to supporting charities. Given the help from those who cheered him on Sundays, foundations such as Aiken’s have the potential to change countless lives.
“We are always looking for support in various ways. It’s amazing what your own time, guidance, or monetary donation can do for these foster children,” Aiken noted. “These kids fall under the radar in their time in the foster care system, and our goal is to make sure they grow up feeling support from our foundation as well as those who support the Kamar Aiken Foundation.”