Thursday, August 19, 2021

[REPORT] Chick-fil-A Progressing With Planned Bank Conversion Despite Negative Community Sentiment

Chick-fil-A on August 16 filed a permit with the City of Atlanta for a new restaurant along Cheshire Bridge Road at the edge of what is today part of the City of Brookhaven.  The roughly half-acre  site, 2419 Cheshire Bridge Road at Sheridan Road, was for several years a Regions Bank before the Birmingham-based financial institution shuttered the branch in late 2019.

Chick-fil-A plans to convert the 3,959 square foot building into a drive-thru only (DTO) restaurant.  Documents reviewed by ToNeTo Atlanta indicate that the [Chick-fil-A] developer proposed "adding a right-hand turn lane off Sheridan onto Cheshire Bridge to aid traffic flow."    According to the permit, the Atlanta-based chain plans to spend an estimated nearly $536,000 on the conversion. 

A male bank robber referred to as "the Punisher," who robbed the Regions Bank on September 6, 2017, went on to rob seven other bank branches in the metro Atlanta area.  Later identified as Patrick Jerome Mouton, the robber returned to the Cheshire Bridge Regions on February 2, 2018, robbing it for a second and final time, as he was apprehended a short time later.  Before Regions the bank was a Wachovia originally built in 1958.  

According to online records, Chick-fil-A first engaged with the nearby Lindridge-Martin Manor Neighborhood Association (LMMNA) in January 2020 with intentions to formally present their plans at the neighborhood's general meeting on February 5, 2020.  According to meeting minutes from February 5, then LMMNA president Kevin Kilbride gave an opening statement acknowledging that the adjacent early learning center  [Easterseals North Georgia] does NOT support the variance for Chick-Fil-A due to traffic concerns.  Additionally, according to the minutes, Chick-Fil-A representatives did not attend and the board did not hold a vote. 

Peyton Bell, current president of the LMMNA, did not immediately return our request for comment with regard to what may have transpired behind the scenes in the nineteen months since the proposal first came to light.   It's also worth noting that the property lies within the boundaries of NPU-F (Neighborhood Planning Unit) and that it has not heard from the developer or discussed the proposal, according to a source close to the group.  

Chick-fil-A currently operates several DTO locations in metro Atlanta including those at Akers Mill Square near Cumberland Mall, Northridge on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, and on North Druid Hills near North DeKalb Mall, among others.  A Chick-fil-A representative told ToNeTo Atlanta a few years ago that the company was "going away from DTO units," but clearly things have changed and the pandemic has no doubt altered the restaurant's plans.  

It's worth noting that Chick-fil-A already operates two nearby standard restaurants - at 2340 North Druid Hills Road and at 2580 Piedmont Road - each of which is about 1.5 miles and about ten minutes from the proposed Cheshire Bridge location.  

ToNeTo Atlanta was unable to find any restriction or timeline relating to being grandfathered into the use of an existing drive-thru when the preceding business has been closed for more than a year.  That said, it still seems highly unlikely that the restaurant could be granted the variance it seeks and be allowed to use the existing but dormant bank drive-thru without at least some review by the LMMNA and NPU-F. 

The estimated roughly half-million dollar cost of conversion also seems low when you consider the need to remove the bank vault.  Considering its age and purpose, it will likely be both costly and time-consuming to remove the vault from the building.  Not to suggest that bank-to-restaurant conversions never happen: Little Rey, Starbucks on Piedmont near Little Rey, and Cirque Daquiri Bar & Grill, were also former banks, but each benefitted from prior restaurants or other businesses having occupied the buildings after the respective banks, making significant (and costly) modifications to the buildings before them.  

Moe's Southwest Grill at Briarcliff LaVista shopping center in Tucker near Northlake Mall was the first restaurant to occupy its roughly 3,200 square foot space after years of it serving as a bank branch.  Its renovation cost was reportedly higher than planned and its opening was delayed by several weeks due to the time it took to remove the vault and other significant bank infrastructure.  

A Del Taco restaurant on Mansell Road in Roswell also opened in what prior tenant The Counter, a burger restaurant, had already converted from its prior use as a bank.  Despite limited issues when opening, the Del Taco did not perform well and closed just nine months after opening.  

With more than 2,600 restaurants, more than 1,000 of which seem to be in metro Atlanta, you'd think Chick-fil-A would be maxed out for growth in Atlanta, but the Cheshire Bridge Road location is at least the second new outpost currently planned for metro Atlanta.  Chick-fil-A also plans to open a new restaurant at the corner of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon Avenue where it will replace an existing Texaco gas station and convenience store.  Here, the new restaurant is moving forward with City of Atlanta approval despite objections from the BeltLine Design Review Committee and from neighborhood groups in the area. 

What are your thoughts on the proposed Chick-fil-A on Cheshire Bridge Road?  If not a Chick-fil-A, what would you like to see open at 2419 Cheshire Bridge Road?  What is your favorite drive-thru restaurant?

Please share your thoughts below. 


Anonymous said...

Good luck with that. The drive thru at The North Druid location wraps around the building and spills out onto Briarcliff at lunch most days.I can’t imagine how a high traffic drive thru is going to work on such a small lot at that tight corner. The neighborhood along Sheridan is very traffic resistant as well, and got those speed bumps installed several years ago. With the thousands of employees and visitors coming to the new Children’s Hospital every day when it opens this whole area will be a parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Although I enjoy their sandwiches I have to agree that this will cause a bottleneck on both Sheridan and Cheshire Bridge. Are Ambulance, Police and Fire allowed to express concern? The CEO lives in a gated community so it doesn’t bother him. Profits over practicality seem to be the rule of thumb today.

Anonymous said...

I can’t imagine a worse location.
That Sheridan/Cheshire Bridge intersection has been a nightmare for decades. It’s small and tight with a busy McDonald’s almost across the street. Dumping thousands of more cars into the mix will only choke traffic more.
Look somewhere else CFA.

DaBigMotor said...

A shuttered Wells Fargo in Lawrenceville was converted into a Wendy's a few years ago, a short time after a different owner of a previous Wendy's a few doors down, had closed. (That former Wendy's is now a Golden Krust.)

I've been to this new store. It's probably the nicest Wendy's I've dined at.

DennisBTR said...

This is a horrible location for this type of business. THere is not enough room for a drive through at this location. The right turn lane proposal will do nothing to help as it already needs a right turn lane with current traffic. It's interesting that they did not reach out to the LaVista Park Civic association which will be the most impacted by this proposed project.

Anon said...

This has disaster written all over it. I see long lines extending down Sheridan. People coming off CBR and making U turns to get in line. Awful. They should go into the former camera store at CBR and LaVista. Plenty of room in the mostly unused parking lot for a queue.

Anonymous said...

The mentioned Piedmont location is in a horrible location as well... backing traffic onto Piedmont and well into the intersection.

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