Chick-fil-A Is Opening a 400-Square-Foot Grab-and-Go Location Without Registers, Chairs, or Menu Boards

You can be in and out in just a few minutes.



Chick-fil-A is opening a location unlike any other.

The massively popular Atlanta-based fast-food chain known for its chicken sandwiches and commitment to customer service is going all in on its new grab-and-go concept with a teeny, 400-square-foot location that it’s debuting in New York City on March 21.

Depending on where you live, your apartment or bedroom could be bigger than the chain’s new storefront. There won't be the usual chairs, tables, cash registers, or menu boards — in short, a complete and total departure from what we all know Chick-fil-A to be. But the lack of furniture makes sense: The whole idea is to keep things moving and get people out the door with their orders as speedily as humanly possible.

“This is all about fulfilling the order, carrying food and drink in a very, very fast and seamless way,” Nathaniel Cates, senior principal design lead, told the Today show in an exclusive video interview.

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So how exactly is it supposed to work? Well, it’s not so far off from what Kernel — the Steve Ells-founded vegan restaurant in Manhattan — is already doing. It’s just not using an enormous robotic arm for food preparation.

First, Chick-fil-A customers would have to place their orders ahead of time via the chain’s mobile app. Once that’s done, you head over to the restaurant and check for your name and order status on a digital board mounted to one side of the space: It will indicate whether your meal is still being prepared or if it’s ready for pickup. When the order is ready, you simply walk up to the front desk, where a staffer will be waiting to hand you your meal. From there, you go on your merry way.

While Chick-fil-A’s grab-and-go concept may seem radical, it’s actually a response to the current dining trends that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic, where guests prefer to eat in the comfort of their own spaces. According to Today, dining in at fast food restaurants has taken a 47% dive since 2019. And approximately 50% of the chain’s nationwide transactions hail from mobile orders — a percentage that only increases in large metropolitan areas like New York.

Related: New Research Reveals Which Fast Food Chain Has the Fastest Drive-Thru and Which Has the Slowest

So it only makes sense for Chick-fil-A to give its guests what they want, and they wouldn’t be the only ones. All across the country, fast food chains like Wendy’s and Taco Bell have been experimenting with AI and robots in an effort to optimize service. Beyond that, some fast-casual spots are looking into Bear Robotics’ Servi — the tiered hospitality robot. And this is only the beginning.

"Chick-fil-A wants to focus on serving the customer in the way that they want to be served," Cates reiterated on Today.

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