Inside Chick-fil-A

The company’s first restaurant rebuilt using the modular construction technique opened in October.

Unless you’re in the building design industry, you’ve likely never heard of modular construction. But, for the Chick-fil-A® Restaurant Development team, the concept has been top-of-mind for several years as the group explored innovative ways to improve the brand’s restaurant remodeling and rebuilding process. In October, the very first Chick-fil-A restaurant rebuilt using modular construction opened outside of Atlanta in Roswell, Georgia.

An innovative approach

Modular construction may sound complicated, but the process is pretty straightforward: It simply means portions of a building are constructed offsite, then transported and set in place on location at the building site.

“At Chick-fil-A, we’re constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve how we build our restaurants,” said Gregg Lollis, Senior Director of Restaurant Design at Chick-fil-A, Inc. “Our team at Chick-fil-A has been researching this type of construction for several years, and we expect to introduce additional modular building projects in the coming months.”

And, while the completed restaurants may look the same, three key benefits of this behind-the-scenes initiative will help Chick-fil-A improve the overall building process and — as a result — better serve Operators, their Team Members and guests.

Here's how:

1. Improved efficiency and time savings

By utilizing the modular construction technique, Chick-fil-A’s restaurants that are being rebuilt or remodeled can usually be constructed more quickly, since portions of the restaurants are manufactured and assembled in a controlled environment. That means weather conditions like rain, snow, wind and extreme temperatures are less of a factor.

“When it comes to rebuilding or remodeling a restaurant, this is a huge factor for our team, said Chad Baker, Principal Reinvestment Lead at Chick-fil-A. “The modular option gives us an advantage of starting these projects ahead of schedule, before the existing restaurant even has to close its doors.”

This also allows the Restaurant Development team to better control costs and the build time by minimizing uncertainties related to schedule and labor, so Operators and Team Members can generally return to work sooner.

“By incorporating modularized construction into our restaurant development programs, we will be able to reduce the construction time needed to rebuild existing restaurants by 6-10 weeks,” said Lollis. “That allows our Operators to minimize lost sales and increase Team Member retention.”

Jim Waddle, Operator of Chick-fil-A Roswell Town Center — the first Chick-fil-A restaurant rebuilt using this process — agrees.

“A shortened construction time allows us to keep employees engaged and excited about what’s coming in the future,” said Waddle.

2. Consistent quality

Quality is also a key benefit of modular construction. Since portions of multiple restaurants can be built at the same time at an offsite location, the Restaurant Development team can work to ensure consistent quality through thorough testing and inspections — identifying and correcting any flaws before the restaurant modules ever arrive at the building site.

“We knew that taking a modular approach would shorten the construction timeline, but we weren’t willing to sacrifice quality in the process,” said Trent Gilley, Lead Designer of the Modular Building Program at Chick-fil-A. “By building the restaurant offsite, we maintain control over the build process without the interference of outside factors, which helps ensure a consistent quality of construction.”

3. More sustainable solution

Another advantage of modular construction is a reduction in the amount of waste produced during the construction process. This reduction means Chick-fil-A restaurants are able to be built in a more sustainable and efficient way.

In addition to reduced waste, modular construction helps reduce site disruptions and impact to adjoining property owners due to the shorter construction duration and less traffic created on the site.

Looking forward, Chick-fil-A hopes to continue identifying and implementing innovative construction techniques such as modular construction to continue to improve the building process’s impact on the communities we serve and Team Members, and to try to reduce its impact on the planet.