Dozens of Chick-Fil-A fans camped out the night before the Tacoma fast food restaurant’s grand opening on April 16. The first 100 people in line for the grand opening won a free meal a week for a year at Chick-Fil-A.
Chick-Fil-A opened its first location in 1967 in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Mall. Truett Cathy, the company’s founder, invented Chick-Fil-A’s boneless chicken sandwich and pioneered the mall restaurant concept. The fast food restaurant is known for its fried chicken sandwiches, waffle fries and hand-pressed lemonade, but the company was thrust into media spotlight a few years back when its president spoke out against gay marriage.
The Tacoma location has hired 97 people at the time of the grand opening. Chick-Fil-A has more than 1900 restaurants in 41 states, and the Tacoma location is the second of three in Washington. Bellevue opened last week and Lynnwood will follow soon.
A media tour prior to the grand opening provided some insight into how the restaurant’s operations differ from many other fast food chains. All of its produce for salads is delivered whole and prepped in-house. The Tacoma store (and other west coast stores) source potatoes and apples from from Washington. The restaurant’s chicken is hand-breaded. Chick-Fil-A’s lemonade contains three ingredients (lemon, sugar, and water), and the store expects to go through about 2,000 lemons a day. Because of the fresh ingredients and minimal automated processes, diners can expect a slightly higher price point than other fast food restaurants.
Each Chick-Fil-A restaurant is run by a single operator with the idea being that an individual has a better chance of building community if they are able to focus on one store. The new store’s operator is Lynnae Schneller. If that name sounds familiar to you, it’s because she’s the founder of Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles. “My husband and I love this brand, the high quality of food, the level of customer service that’s expected, and it’s just a fun way to be involved in the community,” she said. Schneller and her husband submitted an expression of interest when they heard Chick-Fil-A was expanding aggressively in the Puget Sound area, and her background and resume put her to the top of the list for the Tacoma restaurant. According to Schneller, there are about 30,000 applications a year for about 60 Chick-Fil-A openings.
Chick-Fil-A Tacoma is located at the corner of 38th and Steele St. near the Tacoma Mall and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Monday-Saturday.