Monday, Oct. 1, Chick-fil-A officially opened its doors to students, faculty and community members — the first establishment in Tribe Square to do so in over a year since previous tenants The Crust and Pita Pit closed in 2017.
Originally, Chick-fil-A was situated in the College of William and Mary’s Marketplace dining hall but was closed because of renovations in 2014. Chick-fil-A’s new location, which fills the vacancy left by Pita Pit, underwent its own renovation. Sodexo Resident District Manager Jason Aupied said that an issue with the equipment’s exhaust system, along with other construction challenges, caused delays. Aside from those problems, Aupied said that construction went well, and he is excited to see how students utilize the space.
“Chick-fil-A is a highly recognized brand synonymous with high customer service and quality products,” Aupied said in an email Friday. “Our hope is that students will find great value in these aspects as an extension of their meal plan. The location of the restaurant at Tribe Square is also likely to appeal to the local community, off-campus population and visitors as well.”
The location allows students to use Dining Dollars and Express from their meal plans, and Aupied said that they expect to accrue 60 percent of its sale in this way.
“While the community will see many of the same menu items that appear at a full-service location, the campus menu will feature top selling items such as the Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, Waffle Potato Fries, fruit cups, lemonade and treats like Icedream,” Aupied said in an email. “The menu will exclude soup, strips, breakfast burritos and bagels. Additionally, only one entrée salad will be offered.”
Operations Manager Jason Vercammen said that after preparations late last week, Monday’s grand opening went well and saw students line up outside the door.
“Then on Saturday we did an open house,” Vercammen said. “We gave out 250 sandwiches to passersby and brought the cow out and took some pictures to just get everybody ready for today’s opening.”
“We did like a little fun run on Friday, so we invited the residents who were above us and some other student groups on campus and some of the administration on campus to come by and give a little test out on the register,” Vercammen said. “Then on Saturday we did an open house. We gave out 250 sandwiches to passersby and brought the cow out and took some pictures to just get everybody ready for today’s opening.”
Chick-fil-A Grand Opening Trainer Charvis Mills said that the establishment is still trying to work out some issues from opening day but hopes to resolve them by the end of the week. Aupied said that Dining Dollars were not processing Monday morning, but the staff has since fixed the issue.
“We’re still working some things out, but we’re so much further along than what I anticipated, which is a good thing, especially on the first day,” Mills said.
Aupied said that while it will take some time for the establishment to learn customer traffic patterns, the current flow of traffic aligns with predictions made by looking at other areas of campus.
“We know on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we’re going to see those rushes right at 11, at noon, 1, 2 and then tomorrow [and Thursdays], I’m guessing it’s going to be about 20 minutes later,” Aupied said. “There are going to be some lines, but we’re getting people through quickly.”
Robert Metaxatos ’21 said that he wished for outdoor seating, which was absent from the restaurant’s grand opening. Currently, the establishment has 42 seats inside the restaurant, with staff intending to add 47 seats outside if the Williamsburg Architectural Review Board approves the plans to do so, according to Aupied. Metaxatos said that the addition of Chick-fil-A suits the College’s current phase of construction and expansion.
“If [the College] is trying to increase revenue, commodities and also [the employment of] more staff, it seems important to have this kind of satellite thing,” Metaxatos said. “I hope that this is almost something that urges more satellite kind of places like Chick-fil-A.”
Cameron How ’20 said that he was glad to see the vacancy left by Pita Pit filled. He also said that his experience at Chick-fil-A so far had been positive, with the managerial staff being friendly and efficient.
“I’m very excited to have Chick-fil-A here,” How said. “I think it’ll be an awesome space to bring the community together, which is good. Obviously, the students are super, super, super excited. I’m also glad that I can use Dining Dollars and that it’s another outlet to use that money. … Having something that fill that space is awesome.”