The Chick-fil-A fast-food chain will be joining the ranks of fast-food restaurants in Lawrence Township.
The Lawrence Township Planning Board granted approval of the chain’s application for a restaurant on Brunswick Pike/Route 1.
The Lawrence Township Planning Board approved the Georgia-based fast-food chain’s request for permission to build a restaurant at 2950 Brunswick Pike, at the intersection of Brunswick Pike and Bakers Basin Road, at the board’s March 2 meeting.
The application was approved unanimously.
Mayor Jim Kownacki, who sits on the Planning Board, praised the company and said he appreciated that Chick-fil-A chose to open a restaurant in Lawrence Township.
The restaurant will open early next year, according to Chick-fil-A development manager John Martinez.
Construction will begin in the summer, and the restaurant is expected to open its doors in early 2021.
The new Chick-fil-A restaurant will be located near the Wawa convenience store and McDonald’s Restaurant. The site was formerly occupied by Mrs. G’s TV & Appliances, until the store relocated to 2720 Brunswick Pike several years ago.
The Chick-fil-A menu offers an assortment of chicken sandwiches, plus salads and side dishes. There are more than 40 restaurants in New Jersey, including one in Hamilton Township.
The Chick-fil-A restaurant approved by the Lawrence Township Planning Board will be 5,302 square feet. It will have 94 seats inside and several tables outside. It will include an indoor play area for children. There is parking for 72 vehicles.
Although there are 94 seats inside the restaurant, about 60 percent of the customers will use the drive-through window, Martinez said.
The restaurant will employ 80 people, just about evenly split between full-time and part-time employees, Martinez said. There will be about 15 to 18 team members working per shift.
The Chick-fil-A restaurant will be open six days per week, from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is closed on Sunday to give the team members and the equipment some time to rest, Martinez said. It also allows time to clean and maintain the equipment, he said.
Deliveries of food and supplies will be made four or five times per week, after the store is closed, Martinez said.
Noting that there might be protests when the store opens, Planning Board member Edward Wiznitzer asked how it would be handled. There have been occasional protests over the company’s stance on social issues.
Martinez replied that “a great majority of the time” when a new store opens, there are no protests. Nevertheless, there are plans to hire off-duty police officers to handle the anticipated volume of traffic that accompanies the opening of a new store, he said.
“We look at the facility and see what we need to do,” Martinez said.
The protests stem from comments made by Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy, the son of founder Truett Cathy. In an interview in 2012, the younger Cathy said that he opposed same-sex marriage.
The restaurant chain also was criticized for donating to charities that have taken an anti-LGBTQ stance (lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer).
The company has reportedly changed its stance and is donating to groups that focus on education and that seek to end youth homelessness and hunger.
Chick-fil-A has its roots in founder Truett Cathy’s Dwarf Grill restaurant, which opened in the Atlanta, Ga., suburb of Hapeville in 1946, according to its website at www.chick-fil-a.com.
Over the years, Cathy experimented with recipes for chicken sandwiches and perfected a recipe in the early 1960’s.
The first Chick-fil-A restaurant opened in an Atlanta, Ga., shopping center in 1964. The restaurant chain has grown to more than 2,400 stores in 47 states.