Wednesday, March 3, 2021

[UPDATE] Original Chick-fil-A Dwarf House in Hapeville to Close April 30, Reopen Later This Year

In recent years, we at ToNeTo Atlanta have reported on more than a dozen "scrape & rebuild" projects being completed in metro Atlanta by Chick-fil-A.  Some, like the demolition of the "OG" freestanding Chick-fil-A on Briarcliff at North Druid Hills Road in Atlanta were especially sad given the sentimental attachment we and so many other Atlantans had to that location.  That said, Chick-fil-A has now topped the disappointment sundae with confirmed plans to "scrape & rebuild" the Chick-fil-A Dwarf House in Hapeville!

In a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon, Dwarf House management announced that the beloved landmark restaurant will temporarily close April 30 for a "full restaurant remodel."  

"To our beloved Guests and Friends, the Hapeville Dwarf House will be temporarily closing on April 30 for a full restaurant remodel. We will be reopening later this year with a look and design that not only honors our past, but moves us to the future. Beginning March 15 through April 24, we'll be offering reservation only seating for breakfast and dinner, where we invite you to join us for a final meal inside our full serve dining room."

Planning documents filed with the City of Hapeville indicate that the restaurant will be quite a bit larger than its predecessor.  The current Dwarf House is 6,136 square feet (enlarged in the 1980s from its original size) while the new restaurant will be a reported 10,642 square feet!  In addition, and unlike other recent rebuilds in metro Atlanta, the new restaurant will feature a special outdoor play area and enhanced outdoor dining areas, according to renderings of the project.  

The new restaurant will feature elements of the original Dwarf House and will continue to bear the Dwarf House designation, but will be unlike any other Dwarf House in size or scale, according to a widely shared rendering of the completed project.  

Chick-fil-A purchased and consolidated four parcels to form one 2.7-acre property at 461 North Central Avenue (current home of The Dwarf House). The rebuilt restaurant will feature "a combination of styles throughout the history of the ownership and will act as a tribute to Truett Cathy's devotion to serving quality products to his consumers," Chick-fil-A Director of Strategic Reinvestment Joseph Latimer wrote in a summary of the project.

The Hapeville Dwarf House, originally The Dwarf Grill, first opened in 1946, and became known as the birthplace of the Chick-fil-A sandwich.  Pre-pandemic, the restaurant was open six days a weeks, 24 hours a day, and for many, was a regular stop when going to or coming from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  

Dwarf House restaurants are in many ways similar to traditional Chick-fil-A restaurants except for two key differences:  they feature dine-in service and they offer specialty sides such as Green Beans, Fried Okra, Cornbread and Chicken Salad, in addition to traditional CFA menu items.  

Today, with more than 2,400 restaurants in 47 states and Washington D.C.,  Chick-fil-A has the highest same-store sales and is the largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States, based on annual system-wide sales.

It's unclear when exactly the "later this year" reopening in Hapeville will be, but given that the restaurant will be unlike any other Dwarf House or Chick-fil-A restaurant in existence, it's fair to say it will be a longer process than the company has undergone with other projects.  

The company debuted its use of modular construction when it rebuilt a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Roswell this past fall.  The first generation freestanding restaurant was demolished, rebuilt and reopened within twelve weeks.  The process - highlighted here - makes use of prefab building sections that are made and constructed offsite and then assembled, like Legos or Lincoln Logs,  on location.  This process, while easier and more economical than traditional construction, will likely not be feasible for the majority of the Hapeville project given the size, complexity and unique design of the restaurant.  

There were once a total of eleven Dwarf House restaurants, but following the rebuild project in Hapeville, there will be just five original locations (buildings) remaining: Duluth, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Forest Park and Riverdale.  Chick-fil-A has in recent years rebuilt Dwarf House restaurants in Griffin, Newnan, Rome and Stockbridge, and will on March 19 close their Woodstock Dwarf House on Highway 92 to do the same.  When reopened, the restaurants are stripped of their "Dwarf House" designation and are instead referred to as "Truett's Chick-fil-A" restaurants.  

The Woodstock project, which ToNeTo Atlanta exclusively reported on in 2019, will feature museum elements similar to what the company plans to include in the new Hapeville restaurant.  Truett's Chick-fil-A Woodstock is expected to re-open August 26. 

The Hapeville Dwarf House announced Monday that it has opened a separate catering and delivery-focused facility that will serve the community while the Dwarf House is closed, and will remain open once the new location debuts, to supplement catering and delivery needs.  The new outpost, less than a mile from the Dwarf House, offers in-house and third party delivery as well as curbside pick-up and catering.  

"We're thrilled to announce the Grand Opening of Truett's Chick-fil-A Catering and Delivery, located at 801 Virginia Avenue in Hapeville. This address has deep roots in Chick-fil-A's history as our first corporate office, and is now the home of Chick-fil-A's catering and delivery operations in Hapeville." 

Both the Dwarf House and the Catering and Delivery facility are owned and operated by Kevin Moss, a 25 year Chick-fil-A veteran.  

For those wishing to take part in the "Last Bite" event at the Hapeville Dwarf House, the restaurant will be featuring a special menu with commemorative merchandise and surprises!  

"Adult [breakfast] meals will cost $25 and will come with a drink, a 2 Egg Breakfast Platter with your choice of meat and a piece of exclusive Last Bite event merchandise. Kid's meals will cost $10 and will come with a breakfast kid’s meal that includes a child entrée, a child side, a child drink, and a surprise." 

"Adult [dinner] meals will cost $30 and will come with a drink, entrée, two sides, a dessert and a piece of exclusive Last Bite event merchandise. Kid's meals will cost $10 and will come with a kid’s meal that includes a child entrée, a child side, a child drink, a dessert and a surprise."

Reservations for the "Last Bite" meals can be made here.

What are your thoughts on the planned demolition and rebuilding of the original Chick-fil-A Dwarf House?  Would you go for a "Last Bite" at the Dwarf House in Hapeville?  What is your favorite Chick-fil-A menu item?

Please share your thoughts below.  

9 comments:

Ham said...

While I've never been there as a life long Atlanta resident I know how it feels to lose a much loved restaurant/retailer. I still miss The Varsity Jr., Alfredo's, Oxford Books, Evan's Fine Foods and of course Rich's. However, a tear down and rebuild may not be such a bad thing - at least it will still be there.

BarryATL said...

Will there be a drive-thru on the new design? Hapeville does not allow new drive-thrus on new construction. That has been a point of contention between Chick-fil-a and the city council over the years.

Unknown said...

please tell me they are not getting rid of the Seven Dwarf Art. It was done by a family friend and local Artist Doug Davis, he died in the Orly plane crash with a bunch of other Atlantans.They had already repainted it at some point just it would be a real loss for it to go. Hope they keep the stain glass windows too.

Anonymous said...

Be nice to somehow incorporate the old lunch counter into the new design, I've been eating there since 1966, the year I started work with Delta.

BigRedDogATL said...

I think they will regret tearing down the original location in the future. They should have bought adjacent property to build a new building and kept the original building to be a future Chick-fil-a museum.

JD Duckworth said...

Progress is bitter-sweet. Some time ago the company leaders decided to close the (actual) original Dwarf House and build the restaurant that is there today. I suspect at that time there was much conversation about that change, too. The ground that has become the foundation of the Chick-fil-A enterprise will always be hallowed. However, the buildings themselves may be considered monuments to how Chick-fil-A started from very humble beginnings and grew into a Southern American eatery icon while all the time maintaining its founder’s personal values and integrity. Personally, I welcome the change and do hope that they pay homage to the past by incorporating some of their signature décor in the new restaurant. Thanks, Truett!

JD Duckworth said...

Progress is bitter-sweet. Some time ago the company leaders decided to close the (actual) original Dwarf House and build the restaurant that is there today. I suspect at that time there was much conversation about that change, too. The ground that has become the foundation of the Chick-fil-A enterprise will always be hallowed. However, the buildings themselves may be considered monuments to how Chick-fil-A started from very humble beginnings and grew into a Southern American eatery icon while all the time maintaining its founder’s personal values and integrity. Personally, I welcome the change and do hope that they pay homage to the past by incorporating some of their signature décor in the new restaurant. Thanks, Truett!

Let just eat Earl said...

Just so everyone knows it cost $25.00 per person to eat breakfast at the Last Bite. When the girl at the door told me that I laughed and me and my friend went next door to Ihop and I hate Ihop.

Unknown said...

Agree! Spot on!

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