In 1967, Truett Cathy opened the first Chick-fil-A in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Mall. The menu offered just a few classics, including its famous chicken sandwich, which sold for $0.59.
Over the past five decades, Chick-fil-A has gone from a cult favorite to a dominating presence on the fast food scene. The chicken chain now employs 120,000 people in 2,300 restaurants across 47 states, including New York. It first opened its doors to New Yorkers in October 2015, at the corner of 6th Avenue and 37th street in midtown Manhattan.
This particular location is one of the busiest in the nation, says franchise owner Oscar Fittipaldi. He owned a Chick-fil-A in Philadelphia before being selected among hundreds of applicants to be the brand’s first Manhattan franchisee.
In Philly, Fittipaldi’s restaurant completed about 900 transactions on the busiest days of the week, he tells me, but in New York, “we do 3,500 transactions on the busiest days.”
What’s it like to actually work there? I decided to find out.
To keep up with the demand, Fittipaldi has hired more than 125 team members, including assistant director Monique Mendoza, who let me shadow her during her 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday shift. Mendoza, 22, has been with Chick-fil-A for seven years — she started behind the counter as a teen in Utah and worked her way up to her current managerial position.
Before the sun is up, I head over to the original NYC joint to start my day behind the scenes. Once there, I put on my head-to-toe uniform, which included a hat, red polo and non-slip shoes.