VINELAND — The reigning “big chicken” in the fast food industry has something new to brag about, with an off-menu item new to Cumberland County.
This week, Chick-fil-A was approved to build its second store here, this one along the busy West Landis Avenue shopping corridor across from Bottino’s ShopRite.
A special feature, added as a bonus for customers, is the installation of two charging stations for electric vehicles. EV stations are now regular features with new developments, but Chick-fil-A decided to go high end for this project.
Project engineer Vincent Kelly said the stations will be classified as Tier 3, offering the fastest recharging time allowed. That’s a higher level than required by the city ordinance, he said.
The Level 3 Charger could be the county’s first. There are a handful of Level 2 chargers across the region, but none so far can charge an electric vehicle as quickly as so-called fast chargers.
The city’s lead planner, Kathleen Hicks, said the details are something other companies could look into.
“When you level up the game to get this type of charging station, it costs quite a bit of money,” Hicks said. “But, I think it’s the wise choice for an operation like this. And so, I commend them for the way they approach the development of this site.
Customers will have no trouble locating the restaurant. Its main sign will simply show a big stylized chicken – without words.
The Planning Board unanimously approved the plan on Wednesday evening. The company hoped to get approval in February and wants to start work as soon as possible, its lawyer said.
The restaurant at 1211 W. Landis Ave. will be 5,168 square feet in size with a dual-lane drive-thru system, something Chick-fil-A introduced to New Jersey establishments not too long ago.
A single drive-thru is used at Chick-fil-A’s existing store at the Cumberland Mall on South Delsea Drive. This store is over ten years old.
John Martinez, Chick-fil-A’s development manager, said the new store was allowed to relieve the volume seen at its mall site about 8km away.
“So Chick-fil-A as a business, we think we need a second store,” Martinez said. “We believe this is the right place. And again, we looked at many spots in the general area.
Martinez said another development at the company affecting this design involves the COVID-19 pandemic. Security measures, and later shifting customer preferences, caused all fast-food restaurants to favor drive-thru orders, even at the expense of indoor seating.
Chick-fil-A was fortunate in 2020 to already experiment with a store model emphasizing a dual drive-thru system, he said.
“And the stores that had them in place before COVID, mostly in the southwest part of the country, once COVID hit, we realized those stores could handle the traffic,” Martinez said. “And so, we quickly decided, ‘Hey. We’re going to start rolling that out.
However, company representatives said that this store still offers 74 seats inside and another 18 seats outside. The usual children’s play area is abandoned, which Martinez called “a direct victim of COVID.”
The adopted design is also the result of numerous changes requested by the city, which caused a delay of several months in its hearing. An addition to the plan was a lease agreement allowing workers to use 15 parking spaces in a section of the ShopRite parking lot, supplementing the 47 on-site parking spaces.
The resulting plan received praise from planning staff and board members.
“They were really jammed on site,” senior city engineer Ryan Headley told the board. “We asked them to step back a bit, and I think they did a good job of addressing a lot of our concerns.”
Headley said the dual-lane system helps control the “piling up” of vehicles, which can block entrances at peak customer times.
Hicks also said that Chick-fil-A was very cooperative with design reviews.
“Also, I have to compliment them on two things,” Hicks said. “They were the first to solve the delivery problem. Very often we have restaurants like this (say), ‘Oh. We get all of our (supplies) before opening. And we know that’s not true. They come at any time of the day. »
Reportedly, Chick-fil-A uses a “key deposit” system in which most supplies are delivered overnight with the store closed. “And I’m really interested to see how it works because it sounds great,” Hicks said.
The restaurant will also include two charging stations for electric vehicles.
Martinez said an operator for the store has yet to be chosen. Typically, Chick-fil-A does not permit an owner to operate more than one site.
Martinez said the morning shift could be smaller. It’s always a challenge to bring the breakfast business to this state, he said.
“Even though we’re open for breakfast, I can assure you that people up north – it’s a southern-based company – didn’t have chicken for breakfast,” Martinez told the AFP. council laughs. “Even though it’s really good, it’s definitely a very underused part of our day.”
Martinez said the store will hire 80 to 100 people, about half of them full-time.
Joe Smith is a NE Philly native transplanted to South Jersey over 30 years ago, now keeping tabs on the South Jersey government. He is a former and current senior editor of the Daily Journal in Vineland, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, and the Burlington County Times.
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