The Kings of Chicken Come to Town
Perhaps the most poorly-kept secret on campus at The King's College is that a Chick-fil-A restaurant -- the first in New York City -- will open this Fall. Only a few steps away from King's housing in Midtown Manhattan, this location will, by square footage, be the largest franchise store ever opened by Chick-fil-A. Oscar Fittipaldi, the franchisee owner, addressed members of The King's College Student Services Representatives team during training a few weeks ago, speaking on service.
"I'm not in the chicken business, I'm in the people business. Through our services we will revolutionize New York City," said Fittipaldi.
A mutual interest between King's and Chick-fil-A developed this past summer, one which goes beyond hungry college students and readily-accessed fast food. In the past week four King's students became the latest hirees among the historic few opening this new location. Yet the notable parallels between the King's and Chick-fil-A ideologies mean that this should come as no surprise.
"King’s and Chick-fil-A have complementary missions. We highly value several of the same things they do: people, integrity, leadership, and faith," said King's Director of Vocational and Career Development Bethany Jenkins.
When Fittipaldi visited the campus in early August he brought three members of the team Chick-Fil-A sent for this grand opening.
"They each are in their 20's and they are entrusted to create a business that will bring in more than a 100k in revenues per day," said Fittipaldi.
The three Chick-fil-A employees Fittipaldi brought with him -- David, Evan and Jas -- added their personal stories of rising through the ranks of Chick-Fil-A, as each of them all started at Chick-Fil-A's lowest level, the dining room, in their teens.
"We learned what it was like to serve people, not just do a job," said David.
Dave said that service is not a buzzword Chick-fil-A uses to motivate their workers. It is a characteristic that creates a culture of hospitality, from the corporate offices down to the most recently opened store.
"Since my first day I knew something was different," said Evan. "Our goal is to make people feel important. The amount of respect and trust that's built [between customer and the company] is invaluable."
Jas was the most indecisive as a young worker and tried to leave three times.
"I wanted to quit. I had made the money I needed to make to take my girl to senior prom and decided that I was done. But my store owner told me, 'have a seat, let's talk,' and here I am," said Jas. "All it took was a superior investing in me and talking to me. I realized how invaluable my experience has been."
In his first week in the city, Roland Nieves ('19) found a part-time job that he knew he'd enjoy and one that would manageable while he was in school.
"When I went to the job fair [at King's], I had already gotten an application the day before. I just turned in my application; I interviewed with both Dave and Oscar and then they hired me that day," said Nieves.
He also knows the specific dates that Chick-fil-A-craving King's students can check off on their countdown to opening day: "Orientation with Chick-fil-A will be on the 23rd [of September], and then there will be a special commemoration dinner. The Grand Opening will be October 3rd."
Fellow incoming freshmen Grace Croley ('19) began hoping months ago that she could work for Chick-fil-A in New York City.
"The company and Cathy family is so focused on leadership and servant-hood ... I think it is going to be a great first job in the city and really allow me to get a better feel for the city, yet also help show New York that you can serve in a different way," said Croley.
That environment is precisely what Fittipaldi aims to cultivate with this restaurant, his second Chick-fil-A. While many see the city as hostile to a service-heavy fast food restaurant, Fittipaldi beamed and declared heartily that they will be proven wrong.
"New Yorkers have a reputation of being touchy and abrupt but they're still human beings. I haven't met a rude New Yorker yet," said Fittipaldi.
A little more than a month remains before Fittipaldi's words are put to the test of the Big Apple.