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New Chick-Fil-A ‘designed to produce, designed to go’

Guests cut a ribbon to celebrate the start of construction of a new Chick-Fil-A at Southside Square on Spartanburg Highway. Guests cut a ribbon to celebrate the start of construction of a new Chick-Fil-A at Southside Square on Spartanburg Highway.

Nineteen years ago, Chick-Fil-A challenged a young executive to go home and find the town of Hendersonville, North Carolina, on a map. Joel Benson and his wife soon arrived. Over dinner at a Pizza Hut, he looked around at the diners.

“This town would be great for a Chick-Fil-A,” he told his wife. “I cannot wait to get here. Sure enough, you guys have made Chick-Fil-A one of the top performing stores in the country.”
The Atlanta-based chicken sandwich chain plans to open 130 stores in 2021, and it is careful and thorough in picking where a new one opens.
“That means you beat out places like Houston, Texas, New York City, L.A., Las Vegas,” Benson said.
His audience was made up of several dozen guests — from the sheriff to first responders to high school principals whose students make sandwiches and fill orders at the restaurant — invited to celebrate the groundbreaking for the new Chick-Fil-A. (They marked the occasion by cutting a ribbon, in lieu of trying to spear a shovel into a paved parking lot.) On the site of the closed Rite-Aid pharmacy in the Southside shopping center, construction in the weeks ahead will look like Chick-Fil-A’s food prep and customer service: fast, efficient and impressive to watch.
Once the site is cleared, contractors will construct “a signature building that ups the ante of what’s going on in this area,” Benson said. “This store is designed to produce, it’s designed to go.” Barring unforeseen delays, it’s expected to open in April.
With Benson at the helm, the Chimney Rock Road Chick-Fil-A — the first standalone in Western North Carolina — has thrived.
“Chick-Fil-A Hendersonville, when they came, they were like, ‘Wow. We had no idea this place was this ready for another Chick Fil-A.’ So over about three years’ time frame they did studies and they found out that indeed you guys are ready and you wanted a Chick-Fil-A. This is your Chick-Fil-A. You guys built this by consistently showing your appreciation over time.”
The plans for the new restaurant will be posted soon on the Hendersonville Chick-Fil-A’s Facebook page, he promised. The company projects the new location to approach the record pace of the eastside store.
Because the company has not yet permitted dine-in eating, Chick-Fil-A has designed an fast and efficient drive-thru service.
“We’ve got pods, all of our teams are separated, the inside team doesn’t work with the outside team,” Benson said. “We’re still keeping all those standards in place. Last month we literally broke every record we that have — our largest month ever, our largest day ever our largest hour ever.”
The footprint of the 5,000-square-foot restaurant will be east of where the Rite-Aid is.
“The only thing between Chadwick and the store will be the double drive-thru exit lane,” he said. The drive-thru lanes will encircle the parking lot so “you’re never going to have to walk past traffic anymore and worry about getting run over. Chick-Fil-A’s put a lot of painstaking work in the design of this restaurant so it can be more optimal for you,” he said.
He marveled at how a relatively small city had shown such a robust appetite for the sandwich that spares cows.
“Our tiny little town, two stores, serving one community,” he said.