By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News
FLORENCE, S.C. — The newly constructed Chick-fil-A West Florence restaurant opened its doors for the very first time Thursday morning.
One hundred people received free Chick-fil-A for a year, including dozens of campers who braved the heat, a short rain spell and the elements to camp outside the store 24 hours prior to the official opening.
Employees and executives from the restaurant, which previously was drive-thru only, joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the grand opening with a program, ribbon cutting and a ceremonial “first bite.”
Blake Pate, owner and operator of the store, said that the Chick-fil-A drive-thru opened 24 years ago, and for 23 of those years, they have waited for a dining room.
“I want to thank everybody that came out and everyone that has been really supportive throughout the community,” Pate said. “We’re happy to finally have that dining room and really excited to be here.”
Pate originally took over the Chick-fil-A inside the Magnolia Mall before transitioning to the drive-thru-only one at 2705 David H. McLeod Blvd two years ago. He said that the store added 35 more jobs, bringing the total number of employment to 105 at the new restaurant.
“We want to keep it simple,” Pate said. “We want to sell you good food and be really friendly while doing it. That’s our mission and our goal here at Chick-fil-A West Florence. We want to do exactly what [Chick-fil-A founder] Truett Cathy said: ‘To treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect’ and to serve you a great chicken sandwich at the same time.”
Nicole Hill, the marketing director of Chick-fil-A West Florence, said she was happy for the entire Pate family as their dream came true Thursday morning.
“For us, it’s been such a joyful experience,” Hill said. “A lot of us have been working with Blake when he was in the mall and followed him to drive-thru, but we knew the long-term plan was to build this store. It’s been his dream, and the fact that he gets to have something so new makes me extremely excited for him. He really is a people’s person. He wants to be able to get out of the office and into the dining room to interact with guests. I think having this new store is going to be amazing for him.”
Hill said the location right off the interstate will provide a good amount of volume for the store.
“With this particular location, we have so many people traveling through on the interstate that will get off and want to eat here,” Hill said. “If they want something a bit faster or if they have a really large family, they actually have a dining room to come and sit in together, which is awesome.”
Chick-fil-A West Florence will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.