Chick-Fil-A's Flagship Restaurant Is Closing This Week

There comes a time when all good things must come to an end, and it would appear that time has come for the original location of Chick-fil-A. According to WSB-TV, the flagship store, which is located in the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta, Georgia, has posted signs announcing its closure after Saturday, May 20. Further, the location's Facebook page has its status listed as "permanently closed."

Chick-fil-A has had a presence in the Greenbrier Mall since 1967, when Truett Cathy opened a quick-service outlet to sell simple fried chicken sandwiches. At the time, opening a restaurant in a mall was a novel idea and Cathy's pioneering seemingly paved the way for the modern mall food court. Chick-fil-A proved to be a success and began to grow by opening more outlets in malls. While it was a slow and unusual way to grow a restaurant brand, it kept debt low as mall locations required no real estate to be acquired and minimal construction costs.

The pandemic and online shopping trends may be responsible

The move, while sad for many Atlantans, is not surprising given the pain that the pandemic and the ascendancy of online shopping have put on large indoor malls. The Greenbriar Mall, for example, has lost many of its stores, including large anchors, which has led to dwindling foot traffic, says Atlanta Magazine. While no reason has yet been announced by franchise owners regarding the closure, it may well be that a dying mall was just not conducive to business.

Chick-fil-A, though, appears as robust as ever. In March, QSR reported on their stunning per-store sales figures, which dwarf many of their competitors, including those with annual (2021) earnings above $10 billion. Further, new CEO Andrew Cathy — grandson of founder Truett Cathy — stated that the chain is looking to expand internationally in the near future. Highlighting successes in Canada and the opening of the first store in Puerto Rico — of which there are now three — the younger Cathy has said that the company will continue to test how international markets respond to their simple approach to both food and franchising.