Mobile County Commissioners will vote Monday on an agreement that will allow Chick-Fil-A to test selling food to the jurors, employees and visitors at Government Plaza.
The county is expected to approve a memorandum of understanding with Chick-Fil-A during its March 25 that would allow the iconic poultry purveyor to serve breakfast and lunch items prepared at its location on Royal Street during a temporary trial run in the near future.
Dates haven’t been set, but the agreement notes that breakfast would be sold from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch would run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s scheduled to run for a week, though Chick-Fil-A has the option to extend that up to three weeks to better judge the flow of foot traffic.
Commission President Connie Hudson said Chick-Fil-A uses a similar “additional distribution point” model in other areas. It would operate near the building’s entrance on Government Street in the area where absentee voting takes place during election cycles.
Per the agreement, Chick-Fil-A would provide a sales counter, a register and seating for approximately 100 people. The menu would include chicken biscuits, yogurt, orange juice and canned drinks at breakfast, along with chicken sandwiches, side salads and market salads at lunch.
“This will be a trial period to see if it works for us and if it’s something they’re interested in pursuing as well,” Hudson said. “It’s primarily for convenience. We have weeks where several juries are coming in and out and our employees, and this just provides another option. I think everybody is pretty happy about it.”
As Lagniappe reported, the county requested proposals from off-site food service providers last November, and Hudson said Chick Fil A was the only respondent. As part of the agreement, the county will receive 10 percent of its pre-tax sales from the Government Plaza location.
The measure is expected to pass, though it could be by a 2-1 margin. Commissioner Merceria Ludgood hasn’t expressed any opposition to the Chick-Fil-A deal specifically, but she has raised concerns about the county getting into the food service business.
Ludgood voted against the sending out of requests for proposals back in November, citing previous failed food service operations in government plaza and concerns that a business that’s contracting with the county could “undercut” costs that fall on other private sector businesses.
The county once maintained a large kitchen and cafeteria at Government Plaza, but Hudson said much of that equipment has been sold or is inoperable today. If there were to be an interest in using the kitchen in the future, Hudson said it would take “capital investment” to get it operational.
While the plan to bring in Chick-Fil-A is only temporary, Hudson said — if it makes sense for both parties after the trial run — it could lead to additional restaurants providing a similar service for the hundreds of people who visit Government Plaza for court, to work and to pay tickets.
“This is the trial that I think it could possibly lead to something like a food court,” Hudson said. “Chick-fil-A is not the only company that does this model, and it could potentially open the door for others. Chick-Fil-A has also said they’re fine with that as well.”
Hudson said dates for the trial run with Chick-Fil-A would be publicized once the memorandum of understanding is approved and the two entities can agree on a time period that works best.
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