New Yorkers have undoubtedly welcomed — sometimes overwhelmingly — their first standalone Chick-fil-A near Herald Square this past October. On Saturday at 6:30 a.m., it will be joined by a second Manhattan location just up Sixth Avenue.
The new restaurant at the corner of East 46th Street is smaller, just a ground-floor counter with a row of chairs facing the street, and optimized for a to-go experience, cramming in eight registers and a small army of iPad order-takers to keep the line moving — the goal is to get you from the door to food in hand within eight minutes. As with the previous location, this one will debut a new menu item, this time a breakfast sandwich of grilled chicken, egg whites and cheese on an English muffin. Per chain policy, it’ll be closed on Sundays.
To avoid the madness of the 37th Street location’s First 100 opening day promotion — and perhaps because the new restaurant lacks the floor space for a sleepover — the restaurant is sending out mobile kiosks around the city today and Friday where people can get a card to win anything from one sandwich to a whole year of weekly Chick-fil-A meals. Locations will be posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
That’s not the only lesson learned in the six months since the Herald Square location opened. Back in December, that store voluntarily closed for six days after a Christmas Eve inspection by the Health Department found six critical violations and 59 in total.
“We experienced some growing pains,” says Ryan Holmes, the chain’s urban strategy manager. “Even though we have some urban restaurants in Chicago and D.C., New York is different.”
Among the lessons was figuring out how to manage waste without a Dumpster by using trash-compacting garbage cans and equipping the kitchen with an industrial-strength food waste disposal system called the Insinkerator. The sheer volume of business at the first location forced the restaurant to develop not just a theme park-style line system but figure out new procedures behind the scenes — in the first few months, a catering kitchen had been pressed into daily service just to keep up. And the regulations for food prep are more exacting in NYC, which required rearranging its kitchens.
An independent consultant will make monthly visits to ensure food safety procedures are being followed. “We’ve learned a ton,” Holmes says.