Author’s Note: I wrote this story in April 2016 as part of my journalism course work at the University of Alabama. This article was later published in Druid City Living.
Residents of the Lake Tuscaloosa area now have a new but familiar fast-food dining option.
Two area Chick-fil-A franchises have partnered to form a new Chick-fil-A to-go location off New Watermelon Road in Tuscaloosa.
The new location, launched on March 28, sits across from Publix at the Shops at Lake Tuscaloosa and is located less than a mile from Rock Quarry Elementary and Middle Schools.
Chick-fil-A Franchise Operators Ashley Gill and William Boulware partnered to open the restaurant after hearing requests from patrons at their respective stores.
Gill operates Chick-fil-A’s Northport location and Boulware operates the location inside University Mall.
“Nearly seven years after opening our Northport location we were still getting requests nearly every day to expand out towards this area,” Gill said.
The new location is part of Chick-fil-A’s ADP (additional distribution point) Program which aims to serve local communities with limited menu items and store hours.
Items like sandwiches, wraps, fruit and lemonade are all prepared at other locations and brought to the to-go location for pick-up through the drive-thru. Because menu items are cooked off-site, sides like fries are substituted for chips.
“This program allows us to branch out and sell the food in a location other than our traditional store,” Gill said.
Area resident Blake Newman visited the restaurant the week it opened.
“It’s very convenient for me and my wife,” Newman said. “Living on this side of town, it would be awesome to see a full-service location in the future. I think there are enough people to support it.”
The area already features several full-service restaurants including McDonald's, Taco Casa and Jalapeño's Mexican Grill.
Gill said the first few weeks of business have been encouraging.
“We are still trying to educate the public on what we are doing,” she said. “It is encouraging to see repeat customers. That is one sign that people are enjoying it.”
Avid golfer and Tuscaloosa resident Jake Proctor often visits Ol' Colony Golf Course and regularly eats in the area after playing golf.
“I eat at McDonald's and Taco Casa a lot since it is so close to the course,” he said. “It’s great to have more options around. I will definitely be eating here more often.”
Gill stated that the surrounding area played a major role in their property choice.
“This location is different from many traditional Chick-fil-A franchises,” she said. “We are so close to residential areas along with the school, the park and the golf course.”
The Chick-fil-a to-go location is currently open for breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for diner.
Gill said that hours have fluctuated a bit, but patrons can expect the current hours to maintain for a while.
“It has definitely been a learning process,” she said. “We have adjusted our hours based on traffic flow. Our ultimate goal is to just serve the community in the best way possible.”