Can too much popularity be a bad thing?
Drive-thru windows have been a smashing success for fast-food restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic, as most dining rooms remain restricted or closed and consumers crave a quick bite to eat with minimum contact. Chick-fil-A, in particular, draws such a loyal fan base that customers apparently don’t mind waiting in long drive-thru lines.
However, a lawsuit recently filed against Chick-fil-A in Ohio has sparked larger discussion on adverse effects of the restaurant’s busy drive-thrus, and it's at least the third suit of its kind to be filed against the chicken chain in 2020.
Plaintiff Mario Kiezi, who owns a shopping center near a busy Chick-fil-A in Toledo, alleged that the cars waiting on the chain’s to-go line trickle into the shopping plaza’s parking lot, blocking parking spaces for would-be customers.
"Customers have a hard time getting in," Kiezi told Insider in a Monday interview. "Customers have a hard time leaving. In some instances, customers are trapped in their parking spots. We have had instances where people that are parked in handicap spaces are not able to back out of their space."
The outlet reports that Kiezi is the third owner of a local business to sue Chick-fil-A in 2020 regarding its drive-thru, following similar suits filed in Beaumont, Tex. and Union, N.J. All three plaintiffs allege that long lines at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru are negatively affecting their own business and driving away customers.
Instead of taking the chain to court, one frustrated business manager is relocating entirely, "solely" because of the nearby Chick-fil-A's drive-thru lines.
The Joi Wig Salon in in Springfield, Virginia, is reportedly moving when the lease is up later this year. The frequently backed-up Chick-fil-A line effectively blocks the entrance to the store, claims a store manager, making it tricky for customers to enter.
"We're a small mom-and-pop shop. So I feel like nobody really cares about us," Sylvia Tan told Insider. "The property manager ... they care more about Chick-fil-A than us."
When reached for comment by Fox News on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Chick-fil-A said that the restaurant strives to be a good neighbor to its fellow businesses and acknowledged that increased demand for drive-thru service has made the to-go windows especially busy during the pandemic.
"We want to be good neighbors in the communities we serve. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in mass dining room closures and increased activity in drive-thrus throughout the QSR sector, and we certainly experienced that shift at Chick-fil-A and worked quickly to modify our service processes practically overnight," the spokesperson said. "In addition to corporate investment in innovation, our restaurant operators and their leaders worked with and continue to work with landlords and local authorities on a localized throughput plan unique to each individual restaurant and community to identify the best possible solution that considers the needs of our customers, neighbors and team members.
‘We strive to demonstrate our commitment to be a good neighbor in a number of ways, including $25,000 donations to local food banks in every community where we open new restaurants; awarding scholarships that help restaurant Team Members fulfill college dreams; and providing nourishing meals through delivery, curbside pickup and the drive-thru," they added.
In related headlines, the manager of a Chick-fil-A in South Carolina was recently called to help reorganize a traffic backup at a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine site, directing traffic and showing people where to go for their shots.