Two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Douglasville will be rebuilt from the ground up over the next year.
Mike Moore, operator of the Highway 5 and Fairburn Road Chick-fil-A locations, said plans are for both stores to be razed and replaced with bigger restaurants that have more parking and easier access.
An architect has drawn up tentative plans for the Highway 5 Chick-fil-A, which originally opened in March of 1989, Moore told the Sentinel Friday. Moore said those plans include building a new Chick-fil-A store that is double the size of the current one that will sit parallel to Highway 5 unlike the current store, which is more perpendicular with the main road. The new store will sit as close to Highway 5 as possible on the roughly 1-acre lot where the restaurant has always been with parking behind the store. All of the plans are contingent on Chick-fil-A getting approval from government agencies including the county.
Moore said a letter of intent to purchase a roughly 1.25 acre lot at 5751 West Stewart Mill Road just behind the Highway 5 Chick-fil-A was finalized at the end of June.
Plans call for the small house on the lot, currently an Ultratone Hearing Aid Center, to be demolished. The lot — which runs back to the stop sign at Woodland Drive and along West Stewart Mill south to Stewarts Court — will become a parking lot for the new Chick-fil-A with about 104 parking spaces, up from the 59 spots at the location now. In addition to nearly doubling the number of parking spaces, the parking lot will also have room for at least two buses, possibly three, and space for a bus to turn around. Moore said the new store will be much easier for drivers to get in and out of.
The number of seats in the new restaurant will go from 80 currently to around 110 to 115, Moore said.
He said plans are to close the restaurant at the end of April 2018, demolish it and build a new Chick-fil-A restaurant that should be open around Sept. 1 of next year. He said the restaurant will look similar to the newly remodeled Chick-fil-A on Windy Hill Road in Marietta.
Moore said that the Highway 5 store does 62.5 percent of its business through its drive-through window, and he noted that Chick-fil-A as a company has been “making real innovations in drive-throughs.”
Plans are for the new Highway 5 Chick-fil-A to have three drive-through lanes. Two of the lanes will merge together after customers’ orders are taken, while a third outside lane will be independent with no merging required.
Moore said the third lane will lead to a window that’s in a separate, roughly 12-foot-by-24-foot building next to the main restaurant.
Chick-fil-A calls the separate drive-through building the “cockpit,” Moore said, because it's like taking the cockpit out of the main restaurant and putting a duplicate one right beside the store.
The cockpit will have Coke towers, an ice cream machine, and a refrigerator for salads. Hot food items are sent over from the main restaurant to the cockpit as orders in come in via a conveyor system where they’re then bagged and handed to the customer.
Moore said it’s like adding a second drive-through window.
“It’s the same kind of window, same kind of setup, same kind of everything,” he said.
The drive-through lanes at the new store will also have canopies that will cover the first 3-5 cars, similar to the canopies in the drive-through at the South Park Street Chick-fil-A in Carrollton.
Moore said there will be an updated cash station in the drive-through, noting that the one at the current store was improvised on the 28-year-old building. Chick-fil-A employees outside will continue using iPads — which Chick-fil-A calls it’s IPS system — to take drive-through orders, speeding up the process of getting customers their food.
“You just can’t believe how nice it will be,” Moore said. “Basically, it will be just one smooth — you get your order taken from the person on the iPad, you pull up to the cash station, you (pay) your money, you pull up to the next station and you get your fast food. It’s just one smooth move. Just keep going, keep those wheels turning.”
Moore said before finalizing plans to expand the Highway 5 store at its current location, he considered moving the store up the road to the old Chevron lot at the corner of Highway 5 and Douglas Boulevard.
The decision to stay put rather than move was a business decision, Moore said.
He said the developer of the old Chevron lot wanted to lease the land to Chick-fil-A for 30 years and Moore said he prefers to own the lot. He noted the lot where his Chick-fil-A is now was paid off 18 years ago.
Moore said it’s important to be on what he calls the “breakfast side of the road,” where commuters are passing in the morning on their way north to Interstate 20.
He said the old Chevron lot and lot where the Highway 5 Chick-fil-A is located at West Stewart Mill Road are “probably the two best spots on the breakfast side of the road on Highway 5.”
“I don’t think you could find a better corner anywhere,” he said, pointing out that Chick-fil-A and most restaurants don’t want to be on the southbound side of the road where McDonald’s is now.
Moore said he wouldn’t be surprised if McDonald’s moved across the street to the Chevron lot “because it’s just too good a spot for somebody.”
He said despite the traffic at Highway 5 and Douglas Boulevard, if the county moves ahead with adding a right turn lane at the intersection, that would be a real plus for a restaurant locating on the Chevron lot.
Meanwhile, Moore said his store on Fairburn Road — which is located within the Douglasville city limits unlike the Highway 5 store — has already gotten city approval for its plans to build a new Chick-fil-A at the current location at Duralee Lane.
Moore said the Fairburn Road Chick-fil-A, which originally opened in April of 1995, will close at the end of the day Oct. 14, 2017 and reopen around the end of February 2018 or the first of March.
Moore said the Fairburn Road store will be demolished and a new store about four times the size of the current one will be constructed.
Just like the Highway 5 store, the new Fairburn Road store will be built parallel to the main road.
Moore said he has purchased the lot next door where Dr. Nanci Moon’s chiropractic office has been located for many years.
The Highway 92 relocation project will leave the Chick-fil-A about six feet below the grade of the newly constructed road when it’s completed. The Highway 92 project is reducing Moore’s lot by about a fifth and the lot he purchased from Moon by about a third. As a result, he said there’s still not enough space to build a freestanding Chick-fil-A, meaning it will remain a drive-through only location. Moore said plans are to raise the grade a little bit “so it won’t look so much like we’re down in a hole.”
Also like at the new Highway 5 location, there will be three drive-through lanes, with the “cockpit” lane on the outside. Moore said all lanes will be driver side delivery, unlike the current store where one lane is driver side and the other is passenger side.
The kitchen, like the store, will be four times the size of the current one. There will be a men’s and women’s restroom and a breakroom for employees, he said.
Moore said the Fairburn Road store will look almost identical to the Akers Mill drive-through only location on Cobb Parkway near Cumberland Mall which was recently remodeled.
The new store will be constructed just to the north of where the current building sits, with about half of the building on the current lot and half on the lot purchased from Moon.
The new Fairburn Road Chick-fil-A location will be much easier to access, Moore said.
He said customers going south on Highway 92 can turn right into the new store, those going north on Highway 92 can turn left on Duralee Lane and into the store or left in front of the new Lidl grocery store coming to the lot at 5922 Fairburn Road next to Chick-fil-A.
“We’ll go from one entrance and exit at Fairburn Road to four exits and entrances,” Moore said. “You won’t believe the number of access points and how easy it will be to get in and out of that restaurant.”
Contact Ron Daniel by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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