What’s this line for?
If you’re heading downtown this Friday — or any Friday — don’t even bother looking for easy parking at SE 1st and SE 2nd because it’s hopeless. However, if you’re looking for the meal you’ve been waiting for your whole life, head to Wyatt’s Coffee at the same intersection and get your hands on a piece of heaven in the form of a chicken sandwich from Germain’s before it’s too late. Your soon-to-be favorite chicken sandwich has been waiting for you, so make the time to wait for it.
The Angry Bird is a HOT best-seller with a sharp kick that’ll have you asking for seconds. It’ll also have you reaching for more napkins because the fine-seasoned juices from this tender filet refuse to be ignored. This unsuspecting, spicy sandie is not for the weak because things get dripping-down-your-elbow messy before you can take your second bite — not that we’re complaining.
Despite the high demand as seen by the long line, you’ll most likely get your hands on a sandwich before you can even sit down because the Haitian family of four behind Germain’s is always hard at work. This pop-up fought the odds to make its way into the local food scene and became a local staple within three months.
Rodney Germain, the uncle, co-founder of Germain’s and head chef responsible for Germain’s critically-acclaimed chicken sandwiches, lives for the rush. With several years of experience in the food industry, he’s picked up a few tricks along the way, and it should come as no surprise when people start a line that wraps around the block for his food.
“I used to be a chef at the Improv Comedy Club where we sat about 550 to 600 people, and we only had 30 to 45 minutes to feed them a full dinner menu,” Rodney Germain said. “Coming from that background, we live for the rush and the cycle, so this is nothing. We try to push out as fast as we can, and we pride ourselves in delivering fresh orders by the time you’re done paying. Nothing goes under a heat lamp. When I hear your order, I drop the chicken [in the fryer], and it’s pushed out in a minute or two.”
Who is Germain?
We were wondering the same thing! When people ask who Germain is, they are directed to Rodney. While no one is wrong when they refer to Rodney as Germain, technically, the rest of the family who runs and operates Germain’s are Germains as well — for the most part.
Shelton Germain is Rodney’s nephew and bubbly business partner who builds a connection upon any meeting with a stranger. UD Germain is Rodney’s younger nephew who handles marketing for Germain’s, but he’s also the one who hand delivers the orders to customers as they’re rolled out — a.k.a. every customer’s favorite face. The unsung hero of the team: Boris Morette is Shelton’s brother-in-law who the team relies on to “keep their heads in the game and their eyes on the prize.”
“Family’s cheap,” Rodney said “But the important thing is that we understand each other because we’re all we have right now — each other. We can see and share the same goals. The team we have is what God’s given us, and we’re going to roll with it.”
How it began and how it’s goin’
The COVID-19 pandemic caused several hardships and struggles for many people. Although Rodney was no exception after most employees including him were let go from the Improv Comedy Club, the struggle did not last long. The Germain family came together to bring their own menu to life because the potential in Gainesville could not go unnoticed or untapped.
“Gainesville is a desert, and you have to bring whatever you're imagining to life,” Shelton Germain said. “If you want good food, you got to make it. The good thing about a blank canvas is you can make anything you want out of it.”
Despite its fairly recent launch three months ago, this family operation has been in the works since September. With bigger dreams of opening a brick-and-mortar for upscale dining, Shelton knew that they had to get their name out there fast and start building their brand as soon as possible to work their way up in the community.
On a drive down 16th and 13th, Shelton realized what Gainesville was missing: “a dope-a** chicken sandwich.” And nothing grabs a customer’s attention like an exclusive pop-up — especially one with a line out the door and down the block.
“We’ve never done this before, so this is a fresh start for us,” Shelton said. “We were still trying to figure everything out, but we know what we want. We know the vision that we want for Germain’s, but we don't want to call it fast food — even though it comes out fast —- because we put so much attention and detail into what we're doing.”
Germain’s has earned overwhelming support from guests and businesses alike in Gainesville, so they made it a priority to stay true to local roots and collaborate with their neighbors in the community early on. Beyond their weekly pop-ups at Wyatt’s Coffee, Germain’s sources their special Brioche bread exclusively from local bakery Uppercrust Productions. In fact, they’re working to create a heavenly vegan bun to accommodate customers with diverse diets.
Although the team can’t see the line when they’re busy in the kitchen, the order rush fuels them. Despite seeing pictures of the crowds and hearing all the praise, the family manages to stay humble and describes the hype as “something you only see in the movies.”
“We're here to stay, and we definitely want to be in Gainesville because it's a beautiful city,” Rodney said. “It's a revolving door sometimes, but the locals and the people that actually stay here. They're amazing inspirations and always helpful. The feedback from the community and the love we’ve received has been genuine, but we still want to know how we can improve.”
Whether you’re a vegetarian who opts for the refreshing Garden Bird made with savory tofu or a child at heart who prefers the crispy mac ‘n’ cheese bites that pack a drool-worthy punch, you’re sure to find something for everyone. That commitment to high-quality food and dedication to the diverse local community from Germain’s team is obvious to anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting them or trying their food. Hopefully, you’ll make the time to do both when you’re downtown.
COMING SOON TO BYPPO!
You can look forward to finding Germain’s mouthwatering menu on BYPPO soon! It only took one bite for Germain’s to earn our stamp of BYPPO approval. Now you can chomp the line and order from one of Gainesville’s hottest pop-ups in the comfort of your own home.