Charlotte, NC’s zoning board unanimously approved making one local Chick-fil-A drive-thru only on Thursday after customers started a petition in response to the chain’s long wait times and disruption to local traffic.
The proposal would tear down an existing Chick-fil-A and rebuild it as a drive-thru-only location. The next step is for the proposal to be brought to the City Council for a final vote.
If passed, the owner of the property is willing to contribute $70,000 to new traffic signals; the entire project is expected to take six months.
This isn’t the only case of a Chick-fil-A drive-thru causing issues due to its busyness, though.
The city council in Santa Barbara, Calif., was prepared to declare its local Chick-fil-A a public nuisance in March, but when the vote came in June, the council decided to implement a new traffic agreement put forth by Chick-fil-A.
In 2021, former CEO Dan Cathy told the Atlanta Business Chronicle, "We estimate about 30% of the people are driving off, driving away, because the lines are so long."
According to data from Intouch Insight’s annual Drive-Thru Study, Chick-fil-A had the longest drive-thru wait times in 2022, as well as the most cars in line. In fact, the average drive-thru time at Chick-fil-A, the survey reported, is 8 minutes and 29 seconds, almost double the first-place brand, KFC.
The average wait time was down from 2021, when the chain topped nine minutes and only four cars in line rather than the 4.74 in line in the 2022 survey.
Chick-fil-A is also the fastest chain by car time, meaning the time per car it takes to complete an order, with a total of 1 minute and 47 seconds per car. That’s thanks to programs like the mobile-only drive-thru lane the chain implemented at select locations with double drive-thrus.
Chick-fil-A, the third largest restaurant chain in the country according to NRN and Datassential’s Top 500 data, does about $6.1 million in average unit volume — almost double that of McDonald’s. Chick-fil-A is only open six days a week.