Chick-fil-A may need to modify plan for Belle Meade-area project

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 12:56pm

It could be back to the drawing board for Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A in its pursuit to build a new restaurant near Belle Meade at the corner of Harding Road and Woodlawn Drive.

A pair of unscientific polls taken by surrounding neighborhood groups shows the majority of residents nearby the site who took part in the survey disapprove of Chick-fil-A’s current proposal of a drive-thru restaurant concept. 

“At this time, I don’t think there’s enough consensus to warrant filing a bill,” said Metro Councilman Jason Holleman, who would need to sponsor an ordinance to clear the company from a zoning restriction. 

Chick-fil-A’s original plan called for the demolition of a former Regions bank building to make way for a new street-level structure that would include 28 outdoors seats, two drive-thru windows, parking placed in the rear and accommodations for walk-ups. It would not feature any indoor seating.

Representatives of Chick-fil-A had sought a zoning variance from the area’s urban design overlay, which has expressed language that prohibits drive-thrus on corner lots. But it’s the idea of a drive-thru in the area that has generated most of the criticism from neighbors.

“There’s some objection to fast food generally,” Holleman said. “They just don’t want a fast-food restaurant, period, at that site. But most of it is about the drive-thru itself. They’re worried first about drive-thru traffic and second about the litter that comes with that.”

According to James Bristol, president of the Woodlawn Area Neighborhood Association, 51 out of 75 respondents recently polled from his neighborhood disapprove of the Chick-fil-A proposal. He said 13 of 19 respondents who live in the nearby Stanford Place condominium building disapprove of the restaurant.

“My impression, that I’ve told to Jason [Holleman], is that you’re not seeing a groundswell of support for you to sponsor a zoning variance,” Bristol said.

Holleman said he shared the neighborhood’s outlook to representatives of Chick-Fil-A.

“Chick-fil-A has expressed a desire to try to address some of the comments,” he said. “Right now, I’m waiting to see what that response is from Chick-fil-A.”

Getra Thomason, development manager of Chick-fil-A, did not immediately respond to a voicemail left by The City Paper.

To try to appease residents, Chick-fil-A has offered making some accommodations, including the elimination of one access point along Woodlawn and the construction of a sidewalk beyond its own property up to The Ensworth School. The restaurant also has offered to plant a canopy of trees to shield the street’s view from the drive-thru. 

A potential “Plan B” for Chick-fil-A could be to readapt — instead of demolish — the former bank building to house the new restaurant, which would eliminate the need for the zoning variance. 

18 Comments on this post:

By: richgoose on 3/15/11 at 11:48

This is a bad location for a Chik-Fil-A that looks like a bank

By: schlueterwhite on 3/15/11 at 12:00

I work in Belle Meade and would welcome another option for less-expensive food. However, I'd like to see an establishment occupy that space that doesn't sell religion with their sandwiches.

By: ladyd41 on 3/15/11 at 12:20

Schlueterwhite, I can think of worse things to sell than religion. Maybe selling booty out of the drive-thru would be more to your liking as long as it's not religion! That's all this opposition is about! If you don't like Chick-Fil-A then you don't have to buy from them! I love Chick-Fil-A and what they stand for and I'll keep patronizing them! Chick-Fil-
A get another location besides bourgeois, stuck-up Green Hills! LD

By: pnance on 3/15/11 at 12:31

If the Belle Meade Chick-fil-A will be anything similar to the Brentwood location, file the bill. This is the best example I know of a restaurant -- fast-food or otherwise -- that does things right. They will be extremely accommodating neighbors who sell very good food and treat their employees like royalty.

By: richgoose on 3/15/11 at 2:30

I have nothing against Chik-Fil-A. I know the middle class loves fast food. I just hate to see that particular piece of property become middle class.

By: treehugger7 on 3/16/11 at 6:44

What does that mean, rich goose?

By: dxfret on 3/16/11 at 8:12

Yes indeed, customers seem to always get a dose of religious "praise music" courtesy of the Chik-Fil-A sound system. I personally dislike this aspect of the company, but think their fast food is better than most other alternatives. The stores are generally very clean, but many of the employees seem to act like robots, repeating "my pleasure" over and over. I think this may be part of their training, or religious endoctrination. I've noticed there never seem to be many persons of color working at Chik-Fil-A, so that leads one to believe they draw most workers from the fundamentalist Christian denominations. They are closed on Sundays too, which is bizarre in our 24/7 society.

This particular location in Belle Meade is not the best for any type of fast food store. It's simply way too congested already. There is another vacant bank down the street at the corner of Kenner Ave and Harding Rd. that might work since it is in a far more commercial area.

I'll take my chicken sandwich without the side of religion, please!

By: PKVol on 3/16/11 at 8:41

The fact that a restaurant honors the Sabbath by being closed, treats its employees with respect and requires that those same employees treat the customers with respect and plays music that doesn't promote violence and degradation of women - and this is bad, why? I guess those that are offended by Chick-fil-a are the reason our society has gone downhill so much. God help us and God help those who are offended by the love and grace that people, who in Your name, would extend that love and grace to others.

By: cbidbw53 on 3/16/11 at 9:20

How many times have you been at Chick-fil-a and some one tried to convert you....I would say never. You say you don't want 'religion' with your food only because you don't understand what the message is. You have to chose. God will never force any one to love Him. No body is going to kill you if you don't convert.

By: cbidbw53 on 3/16/11 at 9:21

sorry I think it is choose not chose.

By: richgoose-blows on 3/16/11 at 9:33

I agree with richgoose's 'pearl of wisdom' and that the site looks like a bank. I guess that is probably due to the fact that it was a bank; I think there may be some correlation. Richgoose, try grouping the words into sentences and then you'll discover that the plan called for the demolition of former Regions Bank building.

Richgoose, thanks for the other comment about not wanting the place become 'middle class'. WTF does that mean? It must be because the location is so exlcusive Now that only the Utlra-Rich are permitted to inhabit the location. If I am thinking of the right location it's next to a Golf Discount Store it's a vacant Regions Bank site.....very Exclusive by all means, probably targets the homeless golf enthusiasts.

You're an 'F' -ing idiot, please don't post to our columns anymore. You're probably one of the reasons people in other regions think the south is dumb.

By: left on 3/16/11 at 11:01

If you don't want the religion with your chicken, then don't go to Chickfila!

By: titanboy on 3/16/11 at 11:24

Every time I've visited Chick-Fil-A, they've given excellent service and the food was good. At no time have I ever driven through or came out of there feeling like they had rammed religion down my throat. The people seem very personable and appear appreciative for my business. The fact they are closed on Sundays doesn't bother me at all. Other retail businesses are closed on Sunday or have abbreviated hours. What ever they are doing must be working because I see their stores popping up everywhere.

Regarding the placement in the well-to-do part of town, there are many people working in that area who would have more affordable food to eat. As long as they aren't trying to set up shop in one of the gated communities, I say what's the big deal....But then again, that's just my middle-classed opinion.

By: sharko20 on 3/16/11 at 11:27

What difference does it make? You have Walgreens on one corner and Taco Bell across the street. Down the street is Moe's. What is the big deal?

By: David_S on 3/16/11 at 11:49

the problem is there is rarely (if ever) a backed up line to get into the Taco Bell drive-thru. A Chick-Fil-A in that part of town would do a lot of business (much more than Taco Bell ever has), and there's a good chance that cars would be backed up trying to get into the drive-thru. This backup would significantly slow down traffic on Harding, which is one of the main non-interstate roads heading into Nashville.

As for the religion thing, I have never seen or heard about a Chick-fil-a trying to force their religion on anybody. The people who are getting offended are the same people who get offended by anything religious anywhere, including the display of anything remotely religious on or near school grounds, the sound of church bells, nativity scenes, etc. You just have to ignore those people and move on.

By: gdiafante on 3/16/11 at 12:04

I have never even paid attention to any religious overtones by the restaurant, and if they did, so what? If they aren't open on Sunday, go somewhere else.

Much ado about nothing...once again.

By: right-like on 3/16/11 at 12:26

I like seeing individuals speak out about what is happening in our community. At least we are paying attention. I have some personal knowledge about the Chick-Fil-A Corporation and I am also a customer. I actually like being treated with respect when I visit the restaurant. I like eating at a clean restaurant with good food at reasonable prices. I respect their right to close on Sunday so their employees can attend a religious service if they wish and spend time with their families. I don't understand why anyone would be intimidated by that policy. CFA is a great corporate citizen and is always supportive of events in their community. I don't think they check your religion before they participate. I would love for this restaurant to move into our neighborhood. And yes, I will continue to support The Picnic and Bread and Co., even though it costs me $12 to eat lunch at those places. There may even be a few families in Belle Meade that make their kids get a job to earn money and learn a few life lessons. This wouldn't be such a bad place to work. I'm sure CFA is willing to work with the community to agree on a plan that is acceptable to most people. I bet even Jamie shoppers would go through the drive-thru.

By: Nash_TN on 3/16/11 at 1:43

To pnance and others - a major factor is that that this location will not have any indoor seating and will be drive through only aside from nice days when people might sit outside. That fact will make it very different from the Brentwood or other locations in that it will add nothing to the neighborhood in terms of a place to go eat and will only serve large numbers of cars in what is already a terrible area for traffic. I think that is why so many of the local residents are against it.