Chick-Fil-A (Gaines Township)
So it begins. Chick-Fil-A has finally arrived in West Michigan. The franchise will be opening three stores at the beginning of 2017 with a few more in the works. The first one to open in Grand Rapids opened in the middle of January to long lines and a lot of fan fare. Lucky me, J asked me to stop a little over a week after they opened to pick up lunch on my way home.
I was coming home from Big Rapids after spending the night due to work. I set an alarm so I would get up and get moving in the morning so I didn’t waste a day off with my family. Up and moving in the morning for me is 9 AM. It was 9:30 by the time I left my hotel in Big Rapids and started heading south. J knew that the one open Chick-Fil-A in the area wasn’t too far out of my way and asked if I’d stop and pick up lunch.
West Michigan’s first Chick-Fil-A is in Gaines Township right off M-6 at the Kalamazoo Avenue exit on Edgeknoll Drive. The restaurant is in a very weird spot sort of tucked in between Bob Evan’s and the highway. There’s no way to access it from Kalamazoo Avenue even though that is what appears to be the “front” of the building. You actually have to go past Bob Evans and turn on Edgeknoll Avenue. There’s a couple of parking lot entrances from there to go behind Bob Evans and enter the Chick-Fil-A parking area. If you’re going to the drive thru, you have to go through this lot and up and around the building. Really…it’s quite an odd set up.
No way in hell I was doing the drive thru. The line was wound all the way through the parking lot and out to the road. I found an empty parking space in the lot and headed towards the side door dodging the traffic that was slowly inching it’s way up to one of two order speakers in the drive thru lane. Once things calm down, this will be a good place for car vs. pedestrian collisions as you have to cross the parking lot and drive thru lane to get to the entrance of the restaurant.
I was surprised to see a very short line when I got inside. There were three registers that were open and all were busy taking orders, but beyond that, there was really no one in line. There were also open tables in the dining area. I assumed there’d be somewhat of a line inside but I guess most people would rather deal with sitting in the car for a half hour instead of walking in and getting in an out quickly.
I had instructions from J on what to get for her and the kids. There’s not a lot of menu options, so there’s not very far to stray for myself. Your only options are really how do you want your chicken sandwich? Regular? Spicy? Deluxe? Grilled? That’s about it.
I chose to skip doing meal deals and just order everything a la carte. I didn’t think I needed a drink (I did. I screwed up. More in a second.) I got two Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwiches, a 4-count Chick-N-Strips, a 12 count Nuggets and Waffle Potato Fries. On top of that, I was SUPPOSED to get a large Lemonade and a couple Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I forgot those last two….and that’s why J really wanted Chick-Fil-A. I totally screwed up.
The cost for what I did get came out to just under $20. The cashier took my name and handed me the receipt. I did make sure to ask for Chick-Fil-A dipping sauce which J also really likes…so I did do something right.
Less than five minutes after I placed my order, my name was called and I was handed a big bag of food. I spent a total of less than ten minutes inside the store that I thought was going to take much longer. It actually took me longer to park due to drive thru traffic being in the way than it actually did to get the food.
I started in on the fries right away because who wants cold fries? No one else asked for them, so I didn’t see any harm in eating most of them before I got home. The waffle fries are just that. Waffle fries. Good enough as far as fast food fries go and something different than the usual overly salty fries that tends to come with fast food.
I pulled my sandwich out of the foil lined bag in comes in as soon as I got home. The breaded chicken sandwich comes simply on white bread with a single pickle. How in the world that is so tasty is something I will never understand, but it totally is. It’s not wait in line for three hours tasty, but it’s pretty damn tasty. The bread steams a little bit while wrapped up in the packaging making it really soft while the chicken loses a little bit of it’s crunch, but not enough to make it soggy. That single pickle, while puzzling, somehow seems perfectly in tune with the rest of the sandwich.
The chicken strips were for J and the kids. She couldn’t decide if they would eat the strips or the nuggets so she had me get both. The strips are the same chicken as the sandwich, although a little crunchier from not being in the bag. They’re served in a box which lets some of that steam escape so they don’t soften up as much as the chicken.
The chicken nuggets were also really similar to the strips and the sandwich although they came in nuggets. This confused my 5-year-old because they didn’t “look” like the nuggets she’s used to. They actually looked more like popcorn chicken. Still, delicious crunchy chicken, but similar to all the other products already talked about.
I’m happy we’re finally seeing Chick-Fil-A’s in this area. I’m not one of those people that is going to stand in line for hours or drive hundreds of miles just to get a chicken sandwich, but I will add it in to my fast food rotation once things calm down and it’s not a chore just to get in the parking lot. I mean, come on, it’s fried chicken. It’s really good, but it’s still fast food fried chicken. The Wyoming location on 54th opens tomorrow (Feb. 8) and the Portage restaurant will open on February 23rd, so that will relieve some of the pressure from the one store currently open on the west side of the state.