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A brief history of Chick-Fil-A (and a stab at predicting the future)

June 2, 2011 | Chad Conine | Around Town
A brief history of Chick-Fil-A (and a stab at predicting the future)

Once upon a time, if you lived in Waco (or just about anywhere in the southern and southwestern regions of the United States) and you wanted to eat Chick-Fil-A, you had to go to the mall.

When I was growing up, the Chick-Fil-A was a mid-mall eatery. This was before there was a food court at the Richland Mall. The Chick-Fil-A served chicken sandwiches then as it does now, only it served them next door to the Waldenbooks.

Eventually, the Chick-Fil-A moved a hundred or so yards down the mall corridor in order to form the cornerstone of the food court. That's where it is now. But it is no longer the only Chick-Fil-A restaurant in town.

A few years ago, of course, Chick-Fil-A began gracing Texas with more Chick-Fil-A stores, ones that were outside of malls, free to stand on their own. (I have no idea when or where the first Chick-Fil-A restaurant or the first freestanding Chick-Fil-As were located. I'm guessing Atlanta, Georgia. I'm not going to take the time to look it up either. I feel like this information is probably available somewhere else on the Internet — Chick-Fil-A's website or Wikipedia perhaps).

And it seems to me, sometime after Chick-Fil-A began populating areas where I lived or frequented, the chicken restaurant began to develop a certain legend. A legend in the sense that people began to have strong reactions to their brand of chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.

I once knew a guitarist whom, for a time, solely subsisted on Chick-Fil-A — and that time might still be continuing for all I know, I've lost touch with him.

One of my friends moved from Texas to Milwaukee, where they didn't at that time have Chick-Fil-A. More than barbecue or Mexican food, he missed being able to eat Chick-Fil-A.

My boss at my first job out of college would send me out to bring back Chick-Fil-A for lunch. I still remembered his preference: a chick, no pick (as in pickle). Why did he not want the pickle? One of the best parts of the Chick-Fil-A sandwich is the pickle.

So it's that kind of a legend.

But here's the thing. Chick-Fil-A has turned into a Yogi Berra. This is a restaurant class that I think I might be inventing. Berra once upon a time remarked "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." And I have to say I avoid the Chick-Fil-A on Frankline Avenue at noon — between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. really — because it's too crowded. Therefore, the freestanding Chick-Fil-A is a Yogi Berra.

The accompanying photograph with this blog was taken when I ventured to Chick-Fil-A at 10 minutes past noon this week. I was planning on taking a picture of cars lined up all the way out to Franklin, but that wasn't the case. The Chick-Fil-A staff handled the noon rush well. The line wasn't too bad. I was able to acquire lunch in a reasonable amount of time. However, I was the brunt of an exasperated honk from a gentleman who thought it would be a good idea to go around the double line on his way to Wal-Mart. And I ran over some cones. Other than that, it was an uneventful visit.

So the question I'm trying to answer is obvious. When is Chick-Fil-A going to make the obvious move of putting a store in Hewitt and/or Bellmead? I would like to say I have that answer now. But I don't. But rest assured that I will continue digging until I get a satisfactory answer.

Just to be clear, Chick-Fil-A isn't the only place in town where you will encounter a line at lunchtime. I was at Bush's Chicken at 11:30 one morning this week and there must have been 20 cars in line to pick up chicken tenders and some form of potatoes. But Bush's has 11 stores strategically placed around Waco, Hewitt, Robinson, Lacy Lakeview, China Spring, McGregor and West. So Bush's can be fairly confident that it is maxing out it's chicken sales.

Can Chick-Fil-A say the same thing?