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February 27, 2019

Summer construction to fix Chick-fil-A traffic backups

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Traffic from the Chick-fil-A backs up on West Lee Highway in Warrenton at lunch, when the drive-thru gets as many as 150 orders an hour.
We have been working with the town for about a year to come up with a better design that would pull traffic off Route 29 and into our drive-thru.
— Paul Brock, restaurant owner
• What: Fast-food restaurant built in 2008 on 1.2 acres.

• Where: 256 W Lee Highway, Warrenton.

• Application: Amendment to existing site plan; needs town administrative approval.

• Changes: Construct dual drive-thru lanes, add canopies and relocate the main entrance along highway to alleviate traffic stacking from single drive-thru.

• Property owner: Warrenton Crossroads LLC, Dorothy Wood.

• Applicant: Chick-fil-A Inc. of Atlanta.

• Restaurant owner: Paul Brock.

• Project cost: About $1 million.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Fauquier’s busiest restaurant will close six weeks this summer for reconstruction of its highway entrance and drive-thru lanes, along with a kitchen expansion.

Starting in August, Warrenton’s Chick-fil-A will undergo renovations to improve traffic flow and to alleviate backups onto West Lee Highway.

Those backups have “created concern for the town, guests and for everyone,” franchise owner Paul Brock said. “We have been working with the town for about a year to come up with a better design that would pull traffic off Route 29 and into our drive-thru.”

The million-dollar project will include installation of a second drive-thru lane. The highway entrance will move slightly north, closer to the adjacent BB&T. That will allow more vehicles onto the property, reducing vehicle stacking.

“I’ve observed the traffic back up at lunchtime, and anything they can do to alleviate it, I’m all for it,” Town Councilman Bob Kravetz (Ward 4) said.

The project also will add 230 square feet to the kitchen.

“We are also completely modifying our kitchen so it will help us get food out faster,” with the latest technology and more fryers, Mr. Brock said.

“I apologize in advance,” he said of the plan to close for six weeks.

The fast food restaurant conducts about 2,000 transactions a day, with two-thirds of those at the drive-thru window, according Mr. Brock.

The backups onto West Lee Highway also deter some customers from visiting, he said.

“We average about 130 to 150 cars per hour at our peak” between noon and 1 p.m., he said.

After the kitchen and drive-thru renovations, Mr. Brock expects his restaurant will have the capacity to handle up to 175 vehicles an hour at lunch.

To help ease the traffic jams, Chick-fil-A’s managers have sent employees with iPads outside to take orders more quickly. They plan to continue that after construction.

“Basically, it’s like having two cashiers instead of one, which sometimes causes your bottleneck,” Mr. Brock said. “But, you still have only one drive-thru window (for order pickup) . . . . You can only put out food so fast. The new kitchen will allow us to make double the food.”

The new drive thru-lanes will have canopies with heaters and fans.

Construction could start in August, or sooner — as early as June — if the restaurant can get town permits more quickly, according to Mr. Brock.

The restaurant has 63 full- and part-time employees. Mr. Brock anticipates keeping about 75 percent of his employees — most of whom will remain on payroll through the renovation.

The 4,330-square-foot restaurant opened in March 2008.

In fiscal 2015, the Chick-fil-A’s sales totaled $4.7 million, by far the highest of any eatery in Warrenton, according to the town’s annual financial audit. The wildly popular restaurant closes Sundays.

He already has worked on plans for a second Chick-fil-A in Fauquier, Mr. Brock said.

“At some point we will reach capacity (in Warrenton) . . . in two to five years,” he said.

New Baltimore and Bealeton rank among the top choices for a new restaurant, but Mr. Brock wants to finish the Warrenton renovation first.

Contact Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-878-6007.

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graybeard · February 28, 2019 at 10:21 am
Bealeton location would be awesome for me! New Baltimore would work, but man...can you imagine THAT line on Friday evenings? Chick - Fil - A would need 4 drive thru windows to handle that craziness during rush hour!
Rover 530 · February 27, 2019 at 8:07 pm
Hopefully, Chick-fil-a is paying for all these renovations. Their back-ups spilling out onto Rt.29 are a traffic hazard. A new store in Bealeton would be logical. A store in New Baltimore will never happen because it would impact the Spitony's and Northside 29 businesses.
Mochilee · February 27, 2019 at 4:30 pm
I'm a Fauquierian currently stuck in Clearwater, FL and the ChicFilas here have 2 lanes but still only one window. They are so busy that even parking and going in for an order isn't fast. I can count on 15-20 minutes sitting in my car unless I pick my times very carefully. I've actually stopped going as much since it just takes too long. Of course I also had days I gave up on getting food in Warrenton!
Mark House · February 27, 2019 at 3:48 pm
Chris Ball Sr . - Go to Popeyes? Lol.
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