Chicken Kitchen Owner Buys Escobar House, Says "True Passion Is Architecture and Design"
A month ago Chicken Kitchen owner Christian de Berdouare stirred controversy by applying to demolish the North Bay Road home where he lives and where the Beatles were once famously photographed. Last Thursday he made bigger real estate news: For nearly $10 million, he bought the coral-pink waterfront mansion once owned by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Courtesy of Christian de Berdouare The house formerly owned by Pablo Escobar.
The 7,000-square-foot house was built in 1948 and owned by Escobar in the 1980s. It was seized by the U.S. government in 1987 and eventually acquired by Roger Schindler, an attorney, who owned it until last Thursday's sale. The house, unoccupied since a fire damaged it a couple of years ago, is just a few blocks from de Berdouare's other home.
But the millionaire chicken entrepreneur also owns another property on North Bay Road just a mile to the south -- making the Escobar house his third in the same neighborhood. So what's the deal?
Apparently, the white-haired fast-food prince really likes designing and building houses -- and North Bay Road is his favorite place to do it.
"I just love the street," de Berdouare tells Riptide. "We have the most beautiful views, and the sunsets are really spectacular."
De Berdouare, 57, was born in Sudan to Greek and French parents and raised in Ethiopia. As a young man, he lived in Europe and worked in commodities, eventually starting his own trading company in Paris. In 1984 he and his brother Alain invested in a small company called Chicken Kitchen in New York. There were three franchises, and de Berdouare later opened a few more, but the venture ultimately went bankrupt.
In 1989 de Berdouare and his first wife took the company to Miami; when the couple divorced, de Berdouare retained naming rights and eventually relaunched in 1995, opening a restaurant at Aventura Mall. With a business model emphasizing a fresh, healthful menu and strong customer service, the new Chicken Kitchen took off, expanding to two dozen franchises in South Florida and three in Houston.
Courtesy of Christian de Berdouare Back of Escobar house.
The success, de Berdouare says, allowed him to finally pursue what he calls his real passion: building and designing houses.
"I'm an architect and designer in the closet," he says. "And I finally came out."