Chick-fil-A is known mostly for two things: Good chicken sandwiches and fast service. I believe both of those points are severely overhyped. Although, I’ll give them a lot of credit in one area. I’ve never once met an unfriendly staff member. Whether it’s at the front counter or outside in the drive-thru lane, Chick-fil-A employees are aggressively polite. I guess it’s a plus, if you think that kind of thing is important for the few minutes of interaction involved at a fast food joint. Me personally, I don’t require the employees to beam with delight, just take my money and hand me the food. Opening up the bag at home to discover the wrong order is an extremely rare occurrence as well, so I’ll give them another pat on the back for that one, but I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here to appear unbiased. Southerners take their Chick-fil-A love seriously, you’ll easily catch some unkind words if you bash the restaurant openly. That intense love is the reason I want to get my thoughts on the record.
Let’s start with their chicken sandwiches. They’re good, but are they that much better than Hardee’s, to pick an example? Don’t just object, really think about it. It’s dressed with pickles…and nothing else. Nothing. It looks like something they served in my school cafeteria. I don’t care how good you think your chicken is, I don’t eat plain sandwiches. I’m not a child. The audacity is palpable. Sure, you can order it deluxe, but that’s just not the sandwich they market. They do have some good sauces, but so does Milo’s and they have an arguably better selection. The fries are shaped like waffles and that’s cool, but would it kill them to add a little seasoning? They go well with the chicken, that much is true, but they’re too basic to eat alone. No one stops by Chick-fil-A just to grab some waffle fries as a tasty snack. Even if you wanted to, it wouldn’t be worth your time because the drive-thru takes forever.
Yeah, I said it. The “speedy” and “efficient” service I constantly hear people talk about is overhyped as well. That perception comes from Chick-fil-A’s practice of forcing teenagers to stand outside in rain, sleet, or snow to take orders and payment. It’s an elaborate visual designed to trick the customer into believing the service is faster than it really is. So convincing is this methodology, that Chick-fil-A’s often have the longest drive-thru lines you’ll see anywhere. Which kind of defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it? Admit it, anyone who’s been to a Chick-fil-A has undoubtedly waited in at least a twenty minute line before. Needless to say, that’s not fast food. Outback can get you an 8 oz sirloin and a Bloomin’ Onion out of the kitchen and into a to-go bag in that amount of time.
Chick-fil-A isn’t a bad fast dining establishment. They’re adequate, nothing special. Their popularity is driven mostly by Southern culture and the perception of efficiency (misguided as it may be) that they enjoy among their customer base, rather than being a reflection of quality. The next time you find yourself craving some chicken and fries, do yourself a favor and go anywhere else. You’ll save some time and even get food with actual seasoning.