Cartersville residents who have been devouring spicy chicken sandwiches and Ice Dream Cones at the Chick-fil-A at 115 Cherokee Place over the last two decades have a few more months to bid the restaurant farewell.
Glenn Jordan, who has operated the Cartersville restaurant since Nov. 1995, told The Daily Tribune News that the eatery will close this summer. It will then be demolished and replaced by a larger Chick-fil-A restaurant, which is tentatively scheduled for an October opening.
"Depending on volume and just whatever store layout you've got 20-something years ago, they choose to either add on things or just totally knock it down," Jordan said. "We've been Band-Aided several times, they've added on space where they could but there's just no more room in the kitchen for extra equipment, for extra refrigeration and lots of other things we probably need to do to stay up to code with the health department."
Corporate officials asked him six months ago if he'd prefer making incremental improvements to the restaurant over time or to simply rebuild it from scratch.
"They come in the middle of the night and they knock everything down and they put it back together really fast so you have a lot of problems," he said. "So instead of being down a month, I just chose to be down for five months. That way, everything's brand new, back up to code, with new equipment. There'll be some things in the drive-thru, some canopies and things that'll make people being out there a lot easier — there will be heaters out there, fans out there, so my employees will be better taken care of."
He said the new building will be on the same parcel of land. He estimates it will be about 4,800-square-feet — an upgrade of about 1,300-square-feet compared to the current building.
"It'll probably be about the same number of seats, it's just the kitchen that's got to be about four times bigger," he said. "It'll be on the same piece of property. It'll just be better positioned to handle the traffic flow and get people in and out of the building without them having to walk across the drive-thru lane."
While the higher-ups at Chick-fil-A are targeting an early June closure, Jordan said he's pushing to move the date up to late May.
He anticipates the rebuilding process to take about 18-20 weeks, depending on the weather.
"The lot is big enough, so they're going to flatten it, take everything down to the dirt and reposition the store where I'll have more drive-thru queue [so] there'll be more cars to be able to go in the drive-thru," he said. "You'll be able to walk up to the store without crossing those lanes. That seems easy, but if you're an old person, you can get run over real easy — actually, I've had two employees get hit, and they weren't old."
Jordan said there will be no layoffs during the reconstruction time.
"My biggest concern is taking care of my people, and if it means us losing money for a couple of months, it's OK because I don't want to have to lose them," he said. "They're the most important part of the business."
He said many employees will be shifted to the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Emerson, and that sandwiches and other menu items will be "imported" from the LakePoint site at 94 Old Allatoona Road to a trailer near the Target shopping center parking lot.
"There will be a very limited menu and I won't be able to handle the kind of business that we do here," he said, "but we will have some food on this side of town for people who really need a Chick-fil-A fix."
He also said he's working with Cartersville Ace Hardware at 924 West Ave. to bring a food trailer to their business. "We might be serving a little bit of breakfast, a little bit of lunch and a little bit of dinner there and [at the Cherokee Place location.]"
And keeping with Chick-fil-A custom, Jordan promises quite the housewarming gift once the newly built Cherokee Place restaurant opens later this year.
"Every Chick-fil-A that does this, they have something called 'the first 100,'" he said. "They have people camping out and the first 100 customers, they get free Chick-fil-A for a year."