When developer Sidney Torres IV bought the six-acre former Pelicans Stadium site in December, he mentioned a drive-thru chicken restaurant as part of his plans for Tulane and South Carrollton avenues..
It looked like he was referring to the NOLA Chick drive-thru that started serving up fried chicken sandwiches from the former Burger King soon after the sale. But now NOLA Chick is likely to replaced by Chick-fil-A, the popular national chain has been making forays into New Orleans.
The nation’s largest purveyor of fast-food chicken — its annual U.S. sales exceed Popeyes and KFC’s combined — wants to demolish the current building and build a new 2,600-square-foot restaurant set back further from Carrollton.
The new site plan includes two drive-thru lanes and no inside dining, said Patrick Davis, a project development specialist with the Chick-fil-A corporate office in Atlanta, speaking Monday (April 12) evening to the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization.
There will be outside dining, with patio seating for 16 people. “This is a newer model for Chick-fil-A with exclusive service to vehicles and pedestrians of the Tulane and Carrollton corridors with outdoor patio space,” a letter to neighbors states.
The letter invites the public to a Neighborhood Participation Program meeting on April 26. It is also posted on the MCNO site.
Chick-fil-A needs City Council approval for a conditional use at the site, a long procedure it could have been avoided by adapting the current NOLA Chick building that Burger King vacated last summer.
The developer said the new layout is designed for greater efficiency. It allows for a double drive-thru with space for about 30 vehicles waiting within the one-acre site.
Chick-fil-A outlets, such as the one on Veterans in Metairie, are known for long lines of cars disrupting traffic as diners wait to order their fried-chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. Several MCNO members expressed concern over the effect on traffic on the two busy commercial corridors.
“We feel confident we will get all of the customers on and off the site in a timely manner,” Davis said. The company has not completed a traffic analysis of the site, he said.
The site plans show in and out lanes on both Tulane and Carrollton. “Most of the traffic will be directed to Tulane,” Davis said. “The owner-operator can close off exits and entrances during high peak times, probably the Carrollton exit so that it’s drive-thru only.”
Davis said employees will be outside taking and delivering the orders in person.
Addressing concerns about putting workers in the sometimes brutal New Orleans weather, he told the virtual attendees that the design includes canopies to shelter the workers. The canopies will be equipped with fans for the summer and heaters for the winter, he said.
Another MCNO member brought up the 2012 controversy stemming from the Chick-fil-A chief executive officer’s public comments opposing gay marriage and revelations about the Chick-fil-A foundations’ donations to charitable organizations seen as having an anti-LGBT bias. The fast-food chain is known for adhering to the Southern Baptist beliefs of its founder and his son, the current CEO.
“Our Chick-fil-A foundation is adamant about giving to youth,” Davis said, adding the company is an equal opportunity employer. “All contributions are focused on youth education and poverty and solving homelessness.”
Chick-fil-A’s local land-use consultant, Avery Foret with Sherman Strategies, told the MCNO that the company welcomes the input from neighbors and from city officials that is a requirement of the conditional use process.
The site is zoned High Intensity Mixed Use, which allows a drive-thru only as a conditional use. It is also in a Historic Urban Corridor Use Restriction Overlay District, which requires conditional use approval for fast-food restaurants.
There will be two virtual NPP meetings on April 26, one at noon and another at 6 p.m. To attend either meeting, use the Zoom link here. The meeting ID is 921 454 8895 and the passcode is 7777. The call-in number is 929-205-6099.
Katherine Hart is the managing editor of NOLA Messenger. She can be reached at email@example.com.