The first standalone Chick-fil-A outlets in Orleans Parish are under construction after final permits were granted this week.
Demolition has begun at the site on the corner of Tulane Avenue and South Carrollton Avenue on land owned by garbage magnate Sidney Torres IV, who bought the entire block, including the adjacent Fountainbleau Apartments, a year and a half ago. The 2,600-square-foot Chick-fil-A at the busy corner was the most controversial of the three planned city outlets, which includes a branch in the Algiers Plaza shopping center on the west bank and one at 1200 Poydras St., in the Central Business District.
Chick-fil-A was able to overcome concerns by some City Planning Commission members and local residents that the popular Atlanta-based fast-food franchise would cause traffic to back up onto the busy Tulane Avenue and South Carrollton Avenue thoroughfares, as it does at its suburban outlet on Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie. Chick-fil-A executives argued that their latest design would be able to accommodate 50 cars, whereas the 20-year-old Metairie site backs onto the street when the queue reaches 30.
The City Council and the CPC agreed after public meetings last summer to a plan that would double-stack traffic lanes wrapping around the building and quadruple the number of cars it can accommodate.
The original plan had been called for the old Burger King building on the site to be retrofitted but the new design required that the building be razed and an entirely new one constructed. Chick-fil-A argued that its latest ordering system, with employees taking orders on iPads from cars in the stacked lanes, means processing is much quicker than at older outlets.
The final building permit was granted this week for the outlet in Orleans Tower in the Central Business District. That branch will be next door to the Hurts Donuts franchise on the Loyola Avenue side of the 1200 Poydras St. building, which also is the location of Dave & Buster’s sports bar.
Patrick Davis, vice president of project development at Chick-fil-A, said the schedule for opening the new outlets is still “up in the air,” though he said the company hopes at least one will open sometime this year. “We’re definitely excited to get going on the project and to be part of those communities … and we hope to have one open this year barring any extreme weather.”
Sought after franchise
The outlet on Loyola Avenue will cater only to pedestrian traffic and it requires the least intervention of the three sites.
Currently, the only Chick-fil-A outlets in Orleans Parish are located inside buildings on the campuses of Xavier University and the University of New Orleans.
Chick-fil-A is consistently one of the most sought-after fast-food franchises in the country. According to Franchise Business Review, the average Chick-fil-A produces revenue of $ 5.3 million, which is nearly twice that of a McDonald’s and nearly three times that of a Popeye’s.