Chick-fil-A begins construction on Manchester Expressway restaurant

A grilled chicken club will be among the menu items for the new Chick-fil-A restaurant now under construction on Manchester Expressway in Columbus. --
A grilled chicken club will be among the menu items for the new Chick-fil-A restaurant now under construction on Manchester Expressway in Columbus. -- Image from Chick-fil-A Facebook page

Construction is now starting on a new Chick-fil-A restaurant at the intersection of Manchester Expressway and Armour Road in Columbus, with the popular chain expecting to be serving chicken sandwiches and waffle fries there by July.

“I want to express my heart of appreciation for the Columbus community and just supporting Chick-fil-A so well for over four decades,” Alex Vann, the franchise owner-operator of the new location, said Friday. Vann also has owned and operated the Chick-fil-A on Wynnton Road going on nine years.

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The Chick-fil-A now being built is going on property at 2730 Manchester Expressway that formerly was home to J.D. Kinders and Off-Price Furniture stores. Columbus businessman Tom Bryan sold the nearly two-acre piece of land for $1.7 million to developers last June, vacating the premises a couple of months later.

From a traffic standpoint, it’s a premium site. A Georgia Department of Transportation traffic count shows 35,800 vehicles a day on Manchester Expressway just west of the I-185 exit. Just east of the interchange, near Peachtree Mall, the count jumps to 48,900 vehicles per day. Those figures don’t include north-south traffic on Armour Road, which connects Manchester Expressway and the busy Airport Thruway area.

“That’s the busiest intersection in the region, Manchester and I-185,” Vann said. “It’s really an attempt to be near an interstate so that we can serve the community (including traffic to and from Fort Benning) that has supported Chick-fil-A so well since 1973 here in the Chattahoochee Valley, with the first Chick-fil-A that was open at the mall that used to be on Macon Road — Columbus Square Mall.”

Vann said the Chick-fil-A store inside the food court at Peachtree Mall will remain open, with it still remaining under a lease contract. That location is not operated by Vann, who with the Manchester Expressway and Wynnton Road restaurants under his belt will join somewhat exclusive franchise ranks within the Atlanta-based company.

“This is a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s pretty rare in Chick-fil-A to give (someone) multi restaurants. To get a Chick-fil-A alone is rare, much less to be able to have two. So, yes, it’s a big deal.”

The property upon which the new Chick-fil-A is locating has room for at least a couple of more tenants. Vann said he’s heard rumors of what else might materialize on the site, but nothing concrete yet.

“I’m sure there’s not going to be another chicken restaurant there,” he said, laughing. “It will probably be something like a Starbucks or another fast-casual kind of restaurant, something that really fits in the vein of Chick-fil-A.”

Vann noted Chick-fil-A is very selective in where it places a restaurant. The new one, which will employ 100 to 150 people initially, before settling into its operational groove, is among 102 stores the Atlanta company is opening this year nationwide, with those locations creating more than 9,000 jobs combined.

When the construction dust settles and his new restaurant is open, Vann said his two stores could have as many as 200 employees altogether between them. That’s economic impact on the city, he noted.

“Obviously, it’s a partnership with our community,” Vann said. “We don’t have an opportunity to be here and really influence and impact our community if folks aren’t buying chicken. So we’re thankful that six days a week people are still coming and supporting Chick-fil-A in the region.”

Chick-fil-A, unlike most other restaurant and retail chains, is closed on Sundays, giving its employees a consistent weekend day of rest. That typically helps alleviate turnover among workers.

The new location is to have an upgraded interior featuring the company’s latest design, along with drive-thru service. It will have free wi-fi and an indoor play area that includes an interactive section for toddlers.

When it does open this summer, the Chick-fil-A on Manchester Expressway also will have the customary promotion of giving away a year’s supply of meals (52 in all) to the first 100 customers in line at the restaurant. The offer typically has some people camping out all night or standing in line for hours for the giveaway. Since launching the promotion in October 2003, Chick-fil-A has given away $27 million worth of food.

Founded in 1967 by the late S. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A has grown to more than 2,100 restaurants in 45 states and Washington, D.C.