This story was updated at 10:05 a.m. July 31
A piece of undeveloped land in Eldersburg is expected to get a Chick-fil-A restaurant by “mid-to-late 2013,” company representatives said, pending approval from Carroll County officials.
The 4,924-square-foot building would seat 136 patrons and would be located on Route 32’s west side, across the street from Home Depot and other stores in that area of Eldersburg.
The store would be north of Liberty Road and Bartholow Road on land next to , reported Explorecarroll.com
Chick-fil-A officials said the “three big draws” for the store to Eldersburg were the nearby , and .
“We’ll have a lot of people pass our store,” said Matthew Stellmaker, a Chick-fil-A development manager based out of Atlanta.
The company also studied traffic and median incomes near and around the store, as well as the retail health of Eldersburg before pursuing a location, he said.
The planning commission in Carroll County must ultimately decide whether to approve the site plans, said Clay Black, head of the county’s Bureau of Development Review.
The next planning commission meeting on the site plans is Aug. 21, he said.
Black said other plans have been submitted for that site in previous years, such as a T.G.I. Friday’s, but those hadn’t come to fruition.
“We’ve had plans before, but this looks like this could be a go,” he said.
Jack Tevis, of Westminster, who, along with other family members, have owned the undeveloped piece of land where Chick-fil-A is looking to locate since late 1995, said this proposal is a sign of a better economy.
“It’s a sign things are starting to pick up,” he said. “The fact they are going to locate on our site and in our community, it’s pretty cool. Maybe it’s a sign that other things are starting to develop as well.”
There are two other Chick-fil-A locations in Carroll County, one in the TownMall and one on 144 Englar Road in Westminster.
Chick-fil-A, which says its restaurants are individually owned and operated, has yet to find a local franchise owner, said Stellmaker, but is looking for one.
He said when a Chick-fil-A opens, it offers the first 100 customers one Chick-fil-A meal per week for a year, called the First 100.
He said stores always open at 6 a.m. on Thursday mornings and people will come to the store 24 hours in advance, camping in the parking lot, in hopes of snagging the year-long freebies.
“There are all sorts of games: Water balloon competition, dance offs, and all the fans camp out in the parking lot. It’s a really fun time,” he said.
Chick-fil-A is a privately held company with more than 1,615 locations in 39 states and DC. Annual sales were more than $4.1 billion in 2011, according to the company website, which said it was the "second largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States."
The chain has grabbed headlines in recent weeks for the comments of its CEO, Dan Cathy, who has said he doesn't support gay marriage.
Republicans such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have rallied around the chain, reports the Washington Post, as it faces scrutiny for Cathy's comments.
The Jim Henson Company – creator of the Muppets -- with Chick-fil-A following Cathy's comments. The mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, also told the Boston Herald he would keep Chick-Fil-A out of the city.
Chick-fil-A responded on its Facebook page that it had made the choice to "voluntarily withdraw the Jim Henson Kid's Meal puppets for potential safety concerns for our customers." That decision, the company said, was made on Thursday, July 19.
"On July 20, Chick-fil-A was notified of the Jim Henson Company's decision to no longer partner with us on future endeavors," the company wrote on its Facebook page.