The fast-food chain famed for its “Eat Mor Chikin” advertising campaign plans to open its fifth stand-alone location in the Columbus-Phenix City market.
Its operator will be Ross Cathy, the grandson of company founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer S. Truett Cathy and son of Dan Cathy, the chain’s president and chief operating officer. Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A confirmed it will open the outlet at 6517 Kitten Lake Drive in the Midland area of Columbus in May. The site is off U.S. Highway 80, near the intersection of Manchester Expressway and adjacent to the Beaver Run and Wynnfield subdivisions.
“Ross is actually in training right now to become the operator of that store,” said Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Brenda Morrow. “He does not live in Columbus as we speak. But he’s moving to Columbus.”
Due to his training, Morrow said Ross Cathy wasn’t immediately available for an interview. Chick-fil-A requires its operators to undergo extensive training prior to opening one of its restaurants.
The cost to operate one of the chicken-sandwich stores is only $5,000. But contracts also require operators to pay the company 15 percent of gross sales and 50 percent of net profits as a franchise fee.
The 4,596-square-foot Columbus store will cost about $663,000 to construct, according to a city building permit. It will seat 138 customers and include an indoor play area for children. The outlet will employ 65 people.
When the eatery does open in May, Chick-fil-A will use its typical format to attract attention. The first 100 adults in line will receive a year’s supply of meals, or 52 certificates. The promotion typically prompts people to camp out overnight to receive the free food.
The Midland restaurant is one of 75 stand-alone outlets Chick-fil-A plans to open this year. The privately owned, faith-based company already has about 1,530 eateries in 39 states, with sales of $3.2 billion in sales in 2009. It is closed on Sundays.
The chain, founded in the 1960s, now has three stores in Columbus — on Wynnton Road and Bradley Park Drive and inside Peachtree Mall. It has one in Phenix City, on U.S. Highway 280. A cafe inside The Medical Center in Columbus also serves the company’s traditional chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.