Historic first Chick-fil-A restaurant, open since 1967 in Atlanta, is closing

Out of town Jovens Degage, who is from Miami, missed the signs and didn’t realize the place was closing. He said traveling for work brings him through Atlanta on an almost weekly basis, and he always stops at this Chick-fil-A location.

“I usually order the same thing, so when I know it’s closing, this is sad news for me,” Degage said with a look of confusion.

Courtland, another customer who preferred not to give his last name, was aware the location was closing but didn̵[ads1]7;t realize the closure would come so soon. He is from Union City, but said he eats at this Chick-fil-A once or twice a week.

“This is supposed to be the first, right?” he asked. “I’m trying to understand why they’re closing. They are never slow. I do not understand.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reached out to Chick-fil-A for more information about the decision, but did not receive a response.

Chick-fil-A grew out of Truett Cathy’s Dwarf House restaurant in Hapeville, where he began pressure-frying chicken breasts and realized that a fried chicken sandwich could be prepared in about the same time as a fast-food burger. During the 1960s, Cathy licensed the chicken sandwich to more than 50 other restaurants, including Waffle House.

The licensing agreements ended when Cathy opened the Greenbriar Mall Chick-fil-A on November 24, 1967. According to Chick-fil-A, customers who visited the first location “could order only a few classics: the Original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich (which was only 59 cents), salads with boneless chicken breast, coleslaw, lemon pie and lemonade.” Regular fries rounded out the menu; the chain’s trademark waffle fries weren’t introduced until the 1980s.

Over the next two decades, Chick-fil-A expanded almost exclusively through shopping centers. The chain opened its first stand-alone brick-and-mortar location on North Druid Hills Road in Atlanta in 1986.

Chick-fil-A now has nearly 3,000 locations in 48 states and overseas, and it has become one of the most profitable restaurant chains, generating average sales at stand-alone locations of more than $8.5 million by 2022, according to QSR Magazine.

In 2007, Chick-fil-A celebrated 40 years at the Greenbriar location. A plaque describing the restaurant’s historical significance welcomes customers when they order.

As the lunch rush continued to build Wednesday, diners moved quickly through the line like any other day. There was little evidence that anything was wrong until a group of four stopped at the plaque next to the cash registers. As a group, they stopped for a selfie with the plaque in the background, posing with exaggerated expressions of sadness plastered across their faces.

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