Chick-fil-A opening in Fall River — what you need to know about hiring, traffic and more

·5 min read

FALL RIVER — If you regularldrive by the SouthCoast Marketplace, you have likely watched Fall River's upcoming Chick-fil-A slowly taking shape in the parking lot and wondered just when you'll actually get to step inside.

The kitchen isn't even fired up, but the thought of the popular chain's signature chicken sandwich beckons all craving a fast, delicious meal — without having to haul it across the bridge and down I-195.

After months of anticipation — having signed a lease agreement with SouthCoast Marketplace in October 2021 — it appears local fans won't have to wait much longer.

The Chick-fil-A cow has been spotted at several Fall River locales, including the Heritage State Park boardwalk, reminding folks to ditch the red meat and “Eat mor chikin” as the restaurant chain prepares to roll into the city.

The Chick-fil-A cow has been spotted at several Fall River locales, including the Heritage State Park boardwalk, reminding folks to ditch the red meat and “Eat mor chikin” as the restaurant chain prepares to roll into the city.
The Chick-fil-A cow has been spotted at several Fall River locales, including the Heritage State Park boardwalk, reminding folks to ditch the red meat and “Eat mor chikin” as the restaurant chain prepares to roll into the city.

Final piece of shopping plaza's redevelopment

Ron Golub, partner of CEA Group, Inc., which developed, owns and manages SouthCoast Marketplace, said construction of the Fall River site is "progressing nicely" and confirmed it would likely be open by late June, though an official date has not yet been set.

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The new Chick-fil-A restaurant at Southcoast Marketplace is nearing completion.
The new Chick-fil-A restaurant at Southcoast Marketplace is nearing completion.

He said the Chick-fil-A opening is the final piece of the plaza's redevelopment, which has been years in the making.

"The completion is significant," Golub said in an email. "We are now 100% leased with 28 thriving businesses. Not only did all of our businesses survive the pandemic, but they have thrived, which is a testament to the incredible Fall River and neighboring communities who have supported SouthCoast Marketplace since it opened."

Now approaching a milestone five-year anniversary, SouthCoast Marketplace opened in 2017 in an effort to rejuvenate the city's South End. Longtime Fall River shopping destination New Harbour Mall — which opened in 1971 and over the years included a movie theater and anchors such as Bradlees, Kmart and Walmart — closed its doors in January 2016 to undergo a $50 million renovation.

SouthCoast Marketplace is now anchored by Market Basket, T.J.Maxx and Picture Show’s 11-screen movie theater. It includes various food offerings — Jersey Mike's, Qdoba, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Burger King, 110 Grill and Starbucks. Other tenants include Old Navy, PetSmart, ULTA Beauty, Five Below, Staples, a bank, a gym, a liquor store, a medical office, a wellness center and more.

The Chick-fil-A cow has been spotted at several Fall River locales, including the Heritage State Park boardwalk, reminding folks to ditch the red meat and “Eat mor chikin” as the restaurant chain prepares to roll into the city.
The Chick-fil-A cow has been spotted at several Fall River locales, including the Heritage State Park boardwalk, reminding folks to ditch the red meat and “Eat mor chikin” as the restaurant chain prepares to roll into the city.

According to Golub, what's most remarkable about the plaza — which was "virtually abandoned before it was redeveloped" — is the variety and diversity of businesses that serve the community.

"From Market Basket to Starbucks to Old Navy to Crunch Fitness to The Picture Show, there are reasons to visit every month, every week or every day. Chick-Fil-A is a great addition to this commitment to quality and interest," he said.

Right now, the closest location for fans of Chick-fil-A fare is Seekonk so the project has been drumming up quite a buzz over the past few months.

Traffic concerns

While locals are excited for chicken sandwiches, many also worry what the addition of the popular fast-food joint — located in the rear of the lot near Staples and Starbucks — will mean for traffic at the already bustling plaza.

If Chick-fil-A's opening goes anything like that of Sonic, another eagerly anticipated food chain that set up shop on Route 6 in Somerset in 2016, visitors of the busy shopping center can expect it to get a lot busier.

Sonic's arrival drew long lines of curious foodies hoping for a first taste of Sonic's signature shakes and tater tots. Waiting cars stretched onto GAR Highway, requiring police traffic detail in its opening days.

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And considering Southcoast Marketplace already contends with a high volume of cars en route to a number of its anchor stores — the biggest traffic driver being Market Basket supermarket — many fear Chick-fil-A is a recipe for more congestion.

While Golub expects the initial weeks Chick-fil-A is open will be "particularly busy," he said he doesn't expect it to be a long-term issue.

"We are working closely with the Chick-fil-A team to ensure good flow of traffic to and from their building and drive through lanes," he said. "We’re both giving special consideration to the increased traffic that often occurs in the opening weeks."

The Chick-fil-A cow has been spotted at several Fall River locales, including the Heritage State Park boardwalk, reminding folks to ditch the red meat and “Eat mor chikin” as the restaurant chain prepares to roll into the city.
The Chick-fil-A cow has been spotted at several Fall River locales, including the Heritage State Park boardwalk, reminding folks to ditch the red meat and “Eat mor chikin” as the restaurant chain prepares to roll into the city.

In late 2020, work was done to address traffic concerns at the plaza. A state-funded MassWorks grant allowed the city to make several improvements along William S. Canning Boulevard in the area of SouthCoast Marketplace. This included new traffic signal lights installed at the entrance, as well as a "slip lane" northbound on Canning Boulevard/Route 81 to alleviate congestion from cars entering the plaza. A second lane for left turns leaving the site was also added.

"These changes have made enormous and noticeable improvements to vehicles entering and leaving the site," Golub said.

But many local motorists and plaza regulars still claim it's "Christmas Eve everyday" at the shopping center, according to scores of recent social media comments regarding the incoming chicken chain.

"Chick-fil-A has an expert team that opens restaurants around the country and knows exactly how to handle these situations and customize their response to each location’s specific circumstances," Golub said.

What is Chick-fil-A known for?

Chick-fil-A was founded in 1946 by Truett Cathy. The fast food chain is known for its chicken sandwich, a recipe Cathy experimented with for four years until unveiling the sandwich in 1964. It is Chick-fil-A's No. 1 selling entrée.

The recipe is a secret — and is hidden in a safe in the company's Atlanta headquarters — but the sandwich is still prepared according to Cathy's method to this day. The buns are toasted and hot buttered.

Fall River's Chick-fil-A location will soon join more than 2,000 Chick-fil-A restaurants in 47 states.

The SouthCoast Marketplace site, which will be owned and operated by Julie Gallagher, is currently hiring. According to their official Facebook page, those interested in applying can text “chicken” to 508-812-9990.

This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Chick-fil-A opening in Fall River: What to know about hiring, traffic