Chick-fil-A, among the nation’s most polarizing fast-food chains, is opening a second Eastside location next summer.
The restaurant is set to open on July 6, 2017 on the corner of 120th Avenue NE and Totem Lake Boulevard in Kirkland. The company stated that the second location will relieve some of the Bellevue location’s traffic, but Kirkland city officials have concerns that the heavy traffic at the 116th Avenue Northeast location will be mimicked in their city.
“This restaurant, along with the location opening in Puyallup in early 2017, mark the next step in our commitment to expansion in Washington,” a company statement released Dec. 7 read.
The restaurant takes the place of a former Denny’s restaurant, and will be larger than the first location in an attempt to ease traffic in Bellevue.
Ed Hale, the senior project manager for the Kirkland Chick-fil-A, said the city of Kirkland raised traffic concerns during the review process.
“We showed them how our market looks and how many cars we expect, and we’re comfortable that we’ll be able to keep all the vehicles on the property and off the public right of way,” Hale said. “We hope this will take off pressure from the Bellevue store … We’re not concerned, nor is the city now that we were able to show them our model.”
Opening a new location tends to be quite the spectacle as customers flock to new locations by the thousands over the first few days.
Many customers camp out several days before the new restaurants open as part of the First 100 tradition, which awards free chicken for a year to the first 100 customers. Chick-fil-A typically has to get special event permits from the city to deal with the added traffic.
The traffic was bad enough in Bellevue that the city had Chick-fil-A hire private security to handle the congestion.
The Bellevue store owner spent more than $23,000 in overtime costs for city police officers several weeks after the store opened in April 2015. City police even had to close a lane near one of Bellevue’s busiest intersections to mitigate backup along Northeast Eighth Street.
“We’ve learned a lot from our Bellevue experience,” Hale said. “We were surprised at the popularity of the store, and now we’re trying to get more stores in the area so no one store is creating problems for the community. We’re committed to being a good neighbor.”