At 5:59 a.m. on Sept. 14, the otherwise quiet parking lot of Celebration Center at the corner of Pacific Highway South and South 320th Street was alive with the sleepy — yet excited — voices of more than 100 people as they stood in a line that snaked around a make-shift camp of tents and folding chairs.
This odd display would be out of place any other day, if not for the opening of the state’s seventh Chick-fil-A, a national fast food chain that touts an “eat chicken, not beef” ethos. In keeping with the chain’s tradition, the first 100 adults in line when the restaurant opened for the first time at 6 a.m. would receive a year’s worth of free meals.
With origins in Atlanta in 1967, Chick-fil-A has slowly been creeping its way into the Pacific Northwest in recent years with locations in Vancouver, Tacoma, Puyallup, Lynnwood, Bellevue, and Kirkland, and more planned for 2018.
Like the other Washington locations, the Federal Way location boasts a clean, bright 96-seat dining room with vintage-inspired accents like Coca-Cola bottle light fixtures, subway tiles, and peach baskets. There’s also a large gathering table made from reclaimed wood, perfect for large families or groups.
Additionally, the location features a two-story interactive children’s play place and free Wi-Fi for grown-ups, as well as an expanded drive-thru area with screens for two vehicles, enabling customers to move more quickly through the queue.
Since the restaurant opened, owner Ryan Powell said the community is excited to see the new restaurant, especially transplants from elsewhere in the country that may have missed their favorite chicken restaurant up until now.
“In general we’ve had a very good outpouring of positive support, a lot of it has been people saying they don’t have to drive to Tacoma (or Puyallup) anymore,” said Powell. “I think this area is yearning for this style of food. I think this area has so many people and there’s really nothing like us nearby. So to be able to fill that niche is really good for the community itself.”
Furthermore, Powell said the restaurant aims to help the community in many ways including bringing 100 new jobs to Federal Way, and providing each employee the opportunity to get involved with the chain’s Remarkable Futures scholarship initiative. The Federal Way location also is collecting donations of children’s books to benefit local kids and it has partnered with other local charities to benefit the homeless population.
The new Chick-fil-A will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It will be closed on Sundays. For more information, visit Chick-fil-A online.