Chick-fil-A is taking some beating in Southern California, one of several locations across the United States where the fast food chain finds itself a victim of its own success.
In Santa Barbara, the city comes close to calling the lone Chick-fil-A a “public nuisance” due to the often long queues of cars packed with hungry customers on the street for hours at a time.
Known for its waffle fries and chicken sandwiches, the restaurant has been in Santa Barbara since 2013, attracting a steady stream of customers whose cars block nearby driveways and sidewalks and make city buses and emergency vehicles find other ways, according to city officials.
Chick-fil-A increases the potential for traffic collisions and pedestrian injury. At peak volume, car traffic blocks one lane of traffic for up to 90 minutes on weekdays and for up to 155 minutes on Saturdays, according to the city’s traffic report.
“The city traffic engineer, sheriff and community development director have assessed the situation and believe that the constant backup of state street traffic is a public nuisance and that the nuisance is caused by running a car in the chick-fil-A restaurant” document advertiser.
Santa Barbara City Council member Kristen Sneddon believes the restaurant may have outgrown the site and that the problem cannot be resolved, according to Santa Barbara News-Press. “Chick-fil-A has a good problem here,” Sneddon said at a board meeting earlier this month. “They’re so successful, they’ve outgrown their site. They’re probably way bigger than that for this site, at first.” mentioned.
This success is mirrored in Chick-fil-A’s long command lines elsewhere in the country. Quick Service Restaurant Trade Pub QSR included Chick-fil-A is the busiest car window of any national chain in a 2019 study.
At a city council session, Sneddon and other members unanimously agreed to move toward a potential public nuisance classification. Chick-fil-A representatives have asked the board to postpone the troublesome appointment and give it extra time to work on the issue. The Board agreed to continue the public hearing until 7 June.
Travis Collins, the restaurant’s franchise operator, said in a statement Chick-fil-A emailed to CBS MoneyWatch that he wants to be a “good neighbor,” and continues efforts to ease traffic problems. This includes hiring additional staff and third-party traffic monitoring, he said.
Domestic ruffled feathers
For some people who live nearby, the traffic problem has been brewing for years, and it is only too late that the problem has been given serious attention by the city and company.
“In the past, I’ve felt that complaints were taken seriously,” resident Rick Clauson said. Los Angeles Times. “Over the years, you’ve had Chick-fil-A put together their solutions that didn’t actually do much to fix the traffic issue. But then you have the city coming forward with a potentially annoying address, and the organization is now saying, ‘Oh my God, please give us more time to solve this.'” .”
Business is so unusual in Santa Barbara that the city has banned its construction for more than four decades. But Chick-fil-A was put into position, once a Burger King with nothing like current traffic.
Chick-fil-A’s long lines drive through its plumage elsewhere. business owners in Toledo, Ohio; Beaumont, Texas; and Union, New Jersey, all sued Chick-fil-A in 2020 after they alleged long driving lines were blocking customers, according to to from the inside. The publication also reported that dozens of such complaints, police interventions, and significant traffic problems related to Chick-fil-A lines have been found in more than 20 states in recent years.
In Norwalk, Connecticut, Chick-fil-A is proposing to get rid of an existing car and rebuild it on the other side of the building to ease the traffic backups that have been happening since it opened two years ago, and a local newspaper, The Hour, recently mentioned.
One of the issues behind crowding is that “this is the only Chick-fil-A that’s in the area,” Chick-fil-A’s attorney Elizabeth Sacchi told a city zoning commission last year. “Closest to Danbury and Brookfield. People really love this product and the customer service that goes with it, it’s very popular.”
Also in Connecticut, Brookfield officials last year chose to build an additional lane for cars crossing into the Chick-fil-A entrance, with the federal government taking 80% of the tab, CT Insider mentioned This month. Another town in the state, Fairfield, in November denied the chain’s proposal to acquire a former restaurant, with officials saying they made the decision after considering Norwalk’s experience with the chain.
Traffic also regularly causes congestion near Chick-fil-A near one of the busiest intersections in Brooklyn, New York, slowing vehicles to a crawl and causing backups. Efforts to mitigate the problem, including placing metal barriers in the street to deter people from parking double cars, have only been partially successful, according to a local resident.
In Redding, California, newly opened Chick-fil-A pulled a long line of cars in March of last year, according to local CBS. SubsidiaryThe police also issued a traffic alert to prevent congestion outside the restaurant.
Alan Scherter contributed to this story.
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