Chick-fil-A expanding in Chicago-area

by Eric Schroeder
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ATLANTA — Chick-fil-A, Inc., the nation’s second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain, is expanding into the Chicago-area with construction under way on three stand-alone restaurants in Aurora, Orland Park and Wheaton, Ill. Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A said it has spent the past five years evaluating and researching the local marketplace, and said it anticipates opening up to six more restaurants throughout the Chicago area in 2011 — representing 10% of its overall annual restaurant growth.

Chick-fil-A, which opens an average of 75 or more new restaurants annually, will open 78 new restaurants nationwide and is launching a new Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich in July. The company has nearly 1,500 locations in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

The company said its expansion into the Chicago market is part of its long-term growth strategy of planting restaurants in major metropolitan markets where the chain does not have a presence. The Chicago expansion joins recent developments in other major markets such as Southern California, Kansas City and Phoenix.

“Our fans in Chicago, especially the transplanted Southerners, have been telling us for years they crave our hand-prepared chicken sandwiches, made-from-scratch biscuits, hand-chopped cole slaw and fresh-squeezed lemonade, and we listened,” said Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer. “These loyalists have been loud and clear about their Chicago demands. They have started web sites, Facebook and Twitter fan pages and posted YouTube videos as part of their campaigns pleading for us to open in Chicago.”

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