Chick-fil-A opened Monday in the BYU Cougareat with what management is calling a “soft opening.”
“A soft opening is just a chance to get the gate open and the product out,” said Joe Tiapson, general manager of retail dining.
According to retail dining management, Chick-fil-A has been the most requested franchise on campus for the past three years.
Although Chick-fil-A has been highly requested, this deal has been in the works for the past nine years according to Terry Crook, operator consultant to BYU’s Chick-fil-A and owner of the franchise in University Mall. Topics like funding, space, adequate planning and construction needs added to the delay.
Experienced employees, franchise owners and company representatives were even brought in to aid with and oversee the soft opening.
“We’re a little busier than we expected with this soft opening, but then again there was a lot of pent-up anticipation with this location,” Crook said.
When it came to competing with his Chick-fil-A in University Mall Crook said, “This isn’t competition at all, it’s more like a giant billboard of awareness. We all benefit.”
Currently the Cougareat’s Chick-fil-A menu only has seven items. According to management this is common. As the BYU franchise masters production and customers request more products, more menu items will be unlocked.
Though Chick-fil-A will probably never have a full menu, it is expected to bring in enough customers to have six registers, more than any other store in the Cougareat.
Cougareat management, well aware of the demand for Chick-fil-A, is not ignorant of the effect it could have on other Cougareat restaurants.
“We think there might be an impact but we’re not worried too much about it,” Tiapson said. “We’ve been discussing it for months and we plan on improving customer service and product quality at all Cougareat restaurants.”
Katy Barnes, a native Texan studying family history, had nothing negative to say about the new Chick-fil-A.
“I love Chick-fil-A. It tastes good and it’s fresh. It doesn’t do destruction on your innards,” said Barnes. “Even though I’m going to have a tough semester coming up I would wait 10-15 minutes in line for Chick-fil-A.”
The actual grand opening is scheduled Sept. 4 and 5, a day after the beginning of fall semester. Cougareat management is planning on focusing on marketing and promotion to prepare for this day.
“It depends on the individual store but here we’ll have a lot of signage, free samples and even a guy in a cow suit walking around,” said Tiapson.
Even though numbers for the soft opening were more than expected, management is expecting twice as many customers for the upcoming grand opening.