Chick-Fil-A is about to enter the New York crispy chicken sandwich wars. The chain is slated to open its first standalone NYC restaurant on the corner of 37th Street and Sixth Avenue on Saturday morning. The Times takes a look at how the company operates and how it's preparing for the New York opening. Here are the major take-aways:
1) The company is expecting that this location — the largest in America — will see more action than any of its other stores. Internally, the company's head honchos are referring to this restaurant as "the relief valve."
2) As you might have heard, Chick-Fil-A's chief executive Dan Cathy is super religious, and in the past he's been very vocal about his opposition to same-sex marriage. The company's vice president of menu strategy Dan Farmer tells the Times that if protestors show up, the team will "go out and try to talk to them and try to understand their point of view."
3) After Cathy's remarks about same-sex marriage a few years ago, the mayors of Denver and Chicago at the time said that they didn't want the chain expanding in their cities. But a Chicago outpost that opened in 2013 went on to become the chain's highest-volume location. A restaurant consultant named Aaron Allen remarks: "Unlike any other restaurant organization we’ve seen, there’s more religion baked into Chick-fil-A as a brand — and it works for them."
4) Chick-Fil-A splits the profits 50/50 with its franchise operators. Also, as a general rule, the company does not allow operators to run more than one store.
5) The company requires its dining room staff to exchange pleasantries with guests when they walk in, order their food, and leave.
6) The landlord of the building is actually the owner of M&J Trimming next door, and for years, the space actually housed another trim shop. Chick-Fil-A's architect remarks: "We had never designed a store over three levels, and we knew immediately that we were going to have to serve the maximum number of customers possible on the street level."
As noted earlier this week, the first 100 customers in line on Saturday will get free chicken sandwiches for a year.