Why did the chicken cross the Hudson? To open the first stand-alone Chick-fil-A in New York City.
The Atlanta-based restaurant chain will debut a three-level eatery at 1000 Sixth Ave., at the corner of West 37th Street, in late summer. The 5,000-square-foot space marks the 48-year-old company’s first foray into the Big Apple market, though it has operated a tiny outpost within the food hall of New York University’s campus for years. The closest location is 15 miles away in Paramus, N.J.
“We are beyond excited about opening our first freestanding restaurant in New York,” said Carrie Kurlander, vice president of public relations. “This location will allow us to serve fans who have been asking us to come to New York and to earn the opportunity to serve new customers.” She noted that the company is actively working on additional restaurants to open here this year and next.
Like its other 1,850 locations, Chick-fil-A’s New York restaurant, which is a franchise location, will not be open on Sundays, as the company “believes all operators and team members deserve a day off,” according to a spokeswoman. Of course, only operating six days of a week will make affording the city’s hefty rents a difficult task. The asking rent for the Sixth Avenue space was $450 a square foot for the ground floor, for example.
It also remains to be seen how the city’s gay community will welcome the chain. Chick-fil-A met with controversy three years ago in Boston following anti-same-sex marriage comments made by company Chief Executive Dan Cathy. Since then, Mr. Cathy has reportedly said he will no longer mix business with social issues.
“[Chick-fil-A] believes in doing everything with integrity, and that really comes across,” said Michael Cohen, the owner of the Sixth Avenue space.
“We hope that Chick-fil-A’s planned entrance to New York City comes with a side of LGBT-inclusivity and a newly-thought strategy for supporting ventures that are equality friendly,” said Nathan Schaefer, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda. “The bedrock of our city is built on diversity and the history of the LGBT civil rights movement took place on our streets; we encourage all new businesses, including Chick-fil-A, to learn from the mistakes they’ve made and welcome a new era that is reflective of the people they will be serving.”
The eatery, whose ground and second floors and basement are 2,200 square feet each, will boast 10 REGISTERS—more than any other existing outpost—and as many as 80 seats. Its position on the Sixth Avenue corridor will further connect the growing neighborhoods of Herald Square and Bryant Park, said Jack Terzi, the JTRE Holdings broker who handled negotiations for Mr. Cohen.
“There’s tremendous retail activity in the area,” said Mr. Terzi. He noted that he will soon market a space on West 38th Street and Sixth Avenue.
Jeremy Ezra of RKF represented the chicken chain in negotiations.