There’s no strategy like free food.
Venessa Wong / BuzzFeed News
NEW YORK — Over the last two years, the chicken sandwich chain Chick-fil-A has started expanding beyond its usual suburban environs to urban markets, and on Oct. 3, it will open the doors to its largest restaurant yet in the country's largest city, New York.
It will be Chick-fil-A's first location in Manhattan (aside from the NYU cafeteria), which means that even in this city of roughly 8.5 million people, there are plenty yet who have no clue what Chick-fil-A is, despite the fact that the Atlanta-based chain is arguably one of the most successful companies in fast food at the moment.
Chick-fil-A is betting large on the giant, new restaurant, which will be three stories, have 10 registers, and two kitchens. It will have roughly twice the capacity of a typical Chick-fil-A, said Ryan Holmes, a Chick-fil-A urban strategy consultant. In other words, it's expecting tons of business. “Our urban strategy is a lot about New York,” he said.
Chick-fil-A is already planning a second store in Manhattan, and there's room for 15 to 20 locations in the borough, said Holmes, with additional room in the city's outer boroughs like Brooklyn.
To drum up interest in what remains unchartered territory for the brand, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the company handed out roughly 6,500 free chicken sandwiches outside of Madison Square Garden, which is blocks away from the upcoming store. By 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, roughly 70 people had lined up ahead of the truck's opening, and they continued to pour in.
Chick-fil-A aggressively promoted the giveaway. It hired eight people to spread the word by bike, and five pedicabs to chauffeur people to the truck, which was blasting dance music for passersby.