While Cache Valley residents were expressing concern in October about a fast-food drive-through tsunami at the planned new In-N-Out Burger at 4th North and Main, little did they know another one was about to occur 10 blocks away at Chick-fil-A.
The Chick-fil-A outlet at 1323 N. Main was closed for two months this fall for remodeling. It was already a popular fast-food stop for valley residents, but when it reopened Nov. 9, a long line of cars quickly formed and snaked its way around the entire parking lot of the now-abandoned ShopKo building nearby. The rush became the talk of the town.
Similarly long lines have built up at times since then, prompting complaints to the city of Logan from motorists inconvenienced by the lines as well as some businesses on the block.
Logan Community Development Director Mike DeSimone said his department asked the city fire marshal if the lines posed a problem for emergency vehicle access, especially when they block cross-traffic in the parking lot, and the response was no, not at this point. But the situation will be different when a planned WinCo supermarket moves into the ShopKo building next year.
“It’s not ideal right now. … I think it’s going to be a little more problematic once WinCo gets up and running,” DeSimone said. “Then Chick-fil-A will have to manage it better. But that’s still months away, and I would guess by the time WinCo is open, whatever is driving the demand for Chick-fil-A right now will probably diminish or die back a little bit.”
So the question arises, what is driving the suddenly increased demand for at Chick-fil-A drive-through in Logan? The closure of the restaurant’s indoor dining area since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is probably adding to the lines, as dining room closures have at fast-food outlets everywhere. It also could be that loyal customers are making up for lost time during the remodeling.
Looking for answers, The Herald Journal this week invited comments about the trend from its Facebook followers. Many simply chalked it up to “good food” and “good service” from the Atlanta-based restaurant chain that has grown to become the third largest fast-food provider in the United States, behind McDonald’s and Starbucks.
“Their chicken sandwiches are better than anyone’s and their sweet tea is the best in town,” wrote Sandra Lundell. “Also, they’ve shown from the get go that they care about covid-safety. That is a huge part of where we choose to eat right now. They also have the drive-thru system down to a science!”
“Even with the crazy lines you only wait 10 maybe minutes and the food is great!” Melissa Duce said.
Facebook commenter Jared Monson pointed out the long-line phenomenon is not limited to Logan. The Chick-fil-A next door to Target in Layton has double-wide lines of 30 to 50 cars for two hours every day during lunch, he said.
Good chicken or not, some valley residents say no food justifies the crowding that’s spilled over into the adjoining parking lot at times during the past three weeks.
“Their line in front of Shopko drives me insane!” wrote Kim Flygare. “I hate how it clogs up the entrance to Costa Vida and surrounding businesses. I have a hard time getting through most of the time.”
Another commenter, Rachel Merkley, questioned the blocking of cross traffic, both by customers and apparently at some point by restaurant employees who put out traffic cones. “I think it is ridiculous that they cone off the passageways. The people waiting to order should not block the intersection in the parking lot, but the Chick-fil-A workers did,” Merkley wrote.
The Chick-fil-A management could not be reached for comment on the cones.
As part of the invitation for Facebook comments, The Herald Journal asked if the sudden surge at the chicken restaurant could be somewhat politically driven. The chain, known for its staunchly conservative owners, has been at the center of political issues in the past — generating a boycott from the LGBT community in 2012, followed by a high-profile show of support from evangelicals and others. The reopening of the local Chick-fil-A came at the height of partisan sentiments surrounding Nov. 3 presidential election.
“It has nothing to do with politics. Seriously?” wrote Jake Moon.
His feelings were echoed by Brandi Astle, who wrote, “I think it’s hilarious you’re asking if it’s a political thing! Lmfao.”