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Chick-fil-A to open a second store in city

The congested crosstown journey for those craving a Chick-fil-A sandwich could be a thing of the past in about a year and a half.

The chicken sandwich giant is in negotiations to lease the former Rite-Aid store in Southside Square and renovate it for the dine-in and drive-through restaurant. Joel Benson, manager of Chick-fil-A’s busy location on U.S. 64 East, confirmed the lease talks and said he hoped he would be awarded the franchise, the company’s second in Hendersonville.
“They actually started looking (at a southside location) a couple of years ago,” Benson said. A Chick-fil-A real estate rep came to town to scout locations in the Spartanburg Highway area. “He said, ‘Wow, I really like what I see here. I didn’t know this much has transpired.’”
Benson said he has been “honored and humbled” at the success of the store in the Highlands Square Shopping Center and planned to apply to win a second franchise when the company offers it, likely in December.
“There’s some technical stuff we have to go through,” he said. “It really is ours to lose. They would not put in a store in a town like this unless they thought we would get it.” The company likes the concept of “one operator running two stores serving one community.”
The Rite-Aid property, which is 14,612 square feet on 1.5 acres, will accommodate “the newest evolution in store design,” enable Chick-fil-A to expand its catering capacity and serve Chicken Deluxe sandwiches, waffle fries and chicken nuggets even faster. The current location averages 160 meals an hour. “This one will average 180,” Benson said. “I honestly think that store will become Hendersonville’s Chick-fil-A. We’re thoroughly excited. I never would have thought we could have gotten that property.”
Family owned and debt free, Chick-fil-A moves at a strategic pace in siting and opening new stores, Benson said. “They’re mapped out” years in advance. “There can’t be too much at one time. They can do 125 a year right now.”
“I think our founder once said, ‘Just focus on getting better and the customer will demand you get bigger,’” Benson said. “Hendersonville has given us this opportunity. It’s where the Lord has led us.”
Built in 2008, the Rite Aid sold in 2011 to Babyfish LLC, a real estate investment company, for $5.65 million. The property is valued on the tax rolls at $2.43 million.
The largest fast-food chicken restaurant chain in the United States, Chick Fil-A operates more than 2,000 locations in 43 states and Washington, D.C. Boosted by poor-spelling Holstein cows urging diners to “eat mor chikin,” the chain reported more than $10 billion in revenue in 2018, its 51st consecutive year of sales growth. Consumers ranked Chick-fil-A Inc. No. 4 in a Harris Poll annual corporate reputation survey and a Glassdoor survey named it one of the 100 best places to work in 2017.