1980 Union Ave
It's been nearly two years since we ate at a Chick-fil-A, mostly due to the fact that the monkeys declared the chicken "gross" and refused to eat. (Is it true that they marinate it in pickle juice?)
So, imagine my surprise when the monkeys (Satchel, 7, and Jiro, 5) were clamoring to go to Chick-fil-A last Tuesday when I picked them up from school. "Please!" they begged. "Everyone from school is going! Please!" Considering I had seen and heard an abundance of people at school--and frankly all over Midtown--talking about the new Chick-fil-A, I was inclined to believe them. Warren had class and I didn't feel like cooking, so I gave in under the condition that they actually eat their food.
Besides, I was curious to see what the place looked like.
As you may or may not know, the new Chick-fil-A on Union is special. The company agreed to leave the front facade of the old Cumberland Presbyterian Church up after Memphis Heritage lead a fight to preserve the historic structure which was slated for demolition. The company spent more money -- it won't disclose how much -- to grant the community's wish and to have the restaurant's appearance complement the wall.
There's been lots of grumbling--at least among my Facebook friends--about the ridiculousness of the facade, but I'm here to tell you that it's pretty freaking awesome. I expected there to be just bricks on the backside, but it's completely finished and looks like new. There are also very nice lighting fixtures and a delightful seating area behind there. People in the drive through can look through the windows while they wait.
I give it a gigantic, Sissy Hankshaw, nine-inch thumbs up.
Okay, so back to dinner. Before I could discover the beauty behind the facade, I had to get a parking spot--no small task. The parking lot seems to be completely counter intuitive, and with the masses coming out, well, en masse, I had to circle the block twice before finding a place to park. Even though I was in the official Chick-fil-A parking lot, it was still quite a jaunt to get in the building.
As we made our way to the door, Satchel spotted a car that looked like Warren's. "Look! Daddy is here!" he said excitedly.
"Daddy is not here," I replied with a giggle.
"How do you know?" he asked.
"I promise you that Daddy would not tell us he was going to school and then hide out in a Chick-fil-A," I assured him.
Inside, we immediately saw the monkeys' friends from school. While I good-naturedly thanked the parents for having their children exert a fierce amount of peer pressure upon my children, I noticed another friend of mine from roller derby. She appeared to be all alone, but it turned out that her kids were in the playland with the rest of Midtown's under ten population.
Which brings me to my next point. Why don't any of the other chain restaurants in Midtown have playlands? It seems that this fact alone is making Chick-fil-A extremely popular.
By the time I was ready to order, the monkeys were scaling a giant plastic slide, so I decided to make an executive decision and order them whatever I wanted. (It's not like there's a lot of choice involved--chicken or chicken, right?) I'll admit that I had to wait in line longer than I thought necessary. Yes, the place was packed, but no, the girl behind the register didn't quite have her act together. I reminded myself that this particular restaurant had been open for exactly 5 days and to cut her some slack.
I ordered each of the monkeys a 6 piece nugget meal (as opposed to a 2 piece tender meal). I got fruit and white milk for Satchel and waffle fries and chocolate milk for Jiro. (I decided I'd eat at home.) My friend had given me the heads up that my food would be delivered to the table so I joined her and waited. I noticed that there were fresh flowers on the table and my friend confirmed that this was the norm. Nice.
The food came out quite fast and eventually the monkeys took a break from the playland to check it out. Jiro had one fry before disappearing again, but Satchel dutifully sat and ate both his chicken and his fruit. "I want water," he said, eying his milk. Before I could even get one cheek off the seat, a Chick-fil-A "waitress" came over and asked if I needed anything. "Water, please," I said. And then poof! We had water. A few minutes later we needed napkins, and poof! There were napkins.
Now that's what I'm talking about.
Satchel finished his food and went back to play for a bit. Meanwhile, my friend's oldest daughter came over to eat her food. When she was done, she asked if she could trade in her "toy" (which was an activity book of some sort) for ice cream. Huh? My friend, who by now had outed herself as a Chick-fil-A disciple, confirmed that unopened "toys" from kids' meals could be traded in for free ice cream. I used this information to get Jiro to actually finish his dinner on his most recent visit to the table.
Much to my horror, he sat down and put all six of his nuggets in his mouth and chewed them up. He did it before I could stop him, or believe me, I would have! Luckily (?) the nuggets are rather small, so it wasn't too bad. Speaking of, those nuggets sure are small! I really think the kids' meal is more of a "snack" for my giant monkeys.
Once Jiro was done, we said goodbye to his school friends, my friends, and then headed over to the counter to redeem our "toys" for free ice cream. It took an eternity. I'm not exaggerating! I had to make sure that we were all on the same page a couple of times. When we did eventually get the ice cream, the nice young man explained he'd been busy making shakes. I think we just had bad timing all night, but dang. Anyways, the wait time gave me an excuse to send the monkeys to the bathroom to wash their hands. They had managed to get incredibly dirty in the playland and I started getting twitchy about swine flu.
Ice cream in hand, we went to enjoy the outdoor seating area behind the facade. The monkeys thought it was just as cool as I did. Had I let them, they would have been happy to hang out there all night!
I'm sure we'll be back again soon--along with the rest of Midtown. Maybe I'll even eat next time!