By Julia Eckardt
Chick-fil-A, the newest addition to the rapidly expanding fast food Mecca nestled between Fifth Street and Seventh Street across the highway from Baylor, opened today.
The first 100 customers received a free Chick-fil-A meal every week for a year.
Throughout the grand opening weekend, patrons are encouraged to bring children’s books to the new location to be collected in a book house and donated to The Boys & Girls Club of Waco.
It is the largest Chick-fil-A in the greater Waco area, with 229 seats, two drive-thru lanes and 68 parking spaces to accommodate everyone with a hankering to save the cows and “eat more chicken.”
With 10 other restaurants located within walking distance from the Chick-fil-A, franchise owner David Sykora said people should dine in his restaurant because of the quality and freshness of their ingredients.
“We hand-squeeze our lemons for the lemonade and hand-cut the strawberries,” Sykora said. “The time we take to prepare our food takes a lot of man power.”
According to a Chick-fil-A press release, the establishment uses state of the art equipment and environmentally friendly features. The kitchen and restrooms use low flow faucets, which will decrease water use by 10 percent compared to other restaurants. Energy efficient light fixtures, HVAC thermostat controls and windows will decrease energy use by 14 percent. Recycled materials were used in construction whenever possible.
With the opening of the restaurant comes the creation of about 70 new jobs. Brianna Barnett, director of training and human resources, said certified trainers from all over the country spend the first couple of weeks with the new employees to ensure they are properly trained.
“Some of the trainers have done over 40 grand openings,” Barnett said.
Claudette Basden, Georgia native and Waco resident since 1989, said she is very excited about the opening, and is an avid supporter of the company.
“I’ve known teenagers who work for this company and they were very appreciative of scholarships and also of the opportunity, if they had church trips, that their managers were always willing to work with them,” Basden said.
Shift leader Tahlene Wacoubian transferred to the Waco location from El Toro, Calif. She is passionate about working for the corporation because of the relationships it develops within the community and with employees. She still stays in contact with some regular customers from California.
“I got a text from one of our regulars that said ‘Going to Chick-fil-A without you just isn’t the same’,” said Wacoubian.