Chick-fil-A is back in operation in Olive Branch after several weeks of construction work and facility upgrades left customers patiently waiting the return of the popular franchise.
The Olive Branch location reopened for business on Friday, July 19 at 10:30 a.m. and celebrated with a ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m. after this month's rainfall caused an unanticipated delay.
The "new" Chick-fil-A features several new indoor and outdoor improvements that is hoped to better accommodate the heavy traffic and expansive number of guests it serves.
Of the outdoor improvements, a double drive-thru that wraps around the building may be the most exciting addition. After entering, guests must circle around the building to enter this new double drive-thru. There is also a bypass lane for dine-in guests.
Some parking has been taken out on the side of the building facing Baskin-Robbins to accommodate the double drive-thru and bypass lane, but Chick-fil-A hopes this will keep traffic from backing up into the street. On the other side of the building, parking has been extended behind Abbay's.
Once in the drive-thru, team members will take guests' orders under a large, newly constructed canopy aimed to keep team members cool in the heat and dry in the rain. There are also two order points when team members cannot take orders in person.
After paying the team member at the outdoor cash cart, guests can expect a team member to personally deliver their food from a drive-thru door instead of a window. The new door allows easier access to guests.
There is still one entrance and exit, and drivers in the bypass lane must yield to drive-thru guests before exiting. Signs have been posted to help direct parking lot traffic.
The inside of the restaurant also has an updated look, including slight changes to the layout and a facelift for the playground. A new community table, constructed by men receiving treatment for addictions at A Better Way Ministries, sits in the center of the dining area. Four registers will still serve guests.
Several features also pay tribute to Chick-Fil-A founder Truett Cathy and the restaurant's origins in Georgia. A glass sculpture above the community table displays images of Coca-Cola bottles and is reminiscent of Cathy's days selling Coca-Cola door-to-door. Peach baskets nearby represent Georgia, which is also the location of the company's home office.
Brandon Paulsen, owner-operator of the Olive Branch location for the past eight years, noted that they have also made some major changes behind the scenes in the kitchen.
"We added 475 square-feet on the back of the building, which gave us what we call a center-line kitchen which has the capacity to do over $8,000 an hour," Paulsen said. "That's really helped us out. They've got a lot more room back there, team member wise and equipment-wise. We gained a lot to be able to move cars even faster than we did before."
Paulsen believes that all of their renovations will allow faster customer service and help them to continue to uphold Chick-fil-A's core values.
"I think it really speaks to how we make sure that we can serve every guest with honor, dignity and respect, and also we want to be America's best quick-service restaurant," Paulsen said. "It really allows us to align with that. [With] the volumes we had at the old restaurant, we couldn't serve as quickly as we know we wanted to because of the constraints on the capacity. So now that's really lifted [those constraints] off of us, and now we can really focus on serving the guests quickly and being able to love on them a little bit more in that time."
Brent Walker is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.