Six months ago, a Chick-Fil-A first appeared in my part of town. I can’t recall there ever being one in the Twin Cities area before. What I did recall was some media rumor about the upper management of Chick-Fil-A all being against interracial marriage or gay marriage or something that someone was committed to boycotting over. Also, what kind of name is Chick-Fil-A? Are they trying to promote illiteracy? I always call them “Chick-A-Fil” to promote the confusion. The brand was tarnished in my eyes, so I avoided them.
But my boycotts mean little, since I never really spend money. My consumer spending is all dedicated to paying my mortgage, my utility bills, food and liquor. Even though I supported the Nike boycotts of the 1990s (I still haven’t purchased a Nike product), I know that a dollar never spent remains a dollar never spent and that me boycotting something makes people nod their heads and yawn.
For the past six months, I have observed the lines at Chick-Fil-A. They are always busy. Finally, I decided that today was the day to see what all the fuss is about. I decided to walk there over my lunch period.
Regardless of whatever politics of management, I have to confess I am impressed with the business operation. The quality of the sandwich is fantastic, but there isn’t much variety beyond fried chicken. I tried several of the house sauces and concluded that the Polynesian and house sauce are delicious. A unique feature of the experience is the people who walk around inside the store and bring you mints, clear your tables and give you refills. You almost feel like you need to tip (I suppose everyone else does, but I’m a scrooge). I believe I received a terrific value at $8.25.
The quality was so high that, if I ran the store, I would charge $10 for the basic sandwich and I would place the starting pay of the waitstaff at $13 an hour. I feel like this fast food joint represents a good hybrid between fast food and restaurant, on the order of a Noodles and Company. Panera and Chipotle are just fancy fast food. To break through to the other side, you need to send people into the dining area to chat with customers and cater to them. That’s how you can charge the beaucoup bucks.