Nearly 30 years since opening, two Houston County Chick-fil-A restaurants are moving — leaving behind their original locations for bigger and better buildings now under construction.
The Chick-fil-A at 1867 Watson Blvd. in Warner Robins, which opened its doors on Feb. 6, 1992, is moving across town to 621 Russell Parkway on a vacant lot that once housed a bank across from Five Star Hyundai.
“I’m looking forward to building on our legacy in Warner Robins,” said Pat Braski, the restaurant’s owner and operator since 2003. “Our Watson Boulevard restaurant has felt like an extension of my home for decades and our team members have become family.
“This location will always be special to me. My kids even went to school less than a mile away from our restaurant. I am so grateful for our Warner Robins community and looking forward to serving our guests in a new, state of the art setting.”
The Chick-fil-A at 1600 Sam Nunn Blvd. in Perry, which opened Dec. 3, 1992, is moving down the street just west of Interstate 75 at 1363 Sam Nunn Blvd. in front of Quality Inn.
“I am so grateful for our loyal guests in Perry,” said David Grossnickle, the restaurant’s owner and operator since 2001. “It’s hard to believe the restaurant opened in this amazing town almost 30 years ago.
“Knowing our strong history here, we are so excited to open our updated, more accessible space right down the street from our current location. This new building will help us serve many more customers and continue to build on our strong foundation in the community.”
Both new restaurants are expected to open in the spring of 2022, with the Perry location likely to serve its guests first since it’s further along in the construction process.
Site preparation work is under way at the new Warner Robins location, while the building is up at the new Perry spot.
“As a restaurant matures, we reassess the location and its ability to serve the restaurant’s future growth,” according to information provided by Chick-fil-A corporate. “Depending on availability, we often look to find a location that better supports our needs.”
What to expect
Both the new locations are based on the largest Chick-fil-A store model, which is tweaked to meet local needs and ordinances.
The new construction enables the restaurants to double their kitchen space, with the ability to produce more food, while also increasing their traffic volume and efficiency through the drive-thru.
Both have a double-lane drive-thru similar to the Chick-fil-A store at 3000 Watson Blvd. in Warner Robins, which opened in late February.
Both the new Warner Robins and Perry sites also are large enough to pull traffic off the main streets in front of them to wind around each restaurant.
Both are full-service, dine in restaurants. The new Perry location will be able to seat up to 104 people and has 44 parking spaces.
Neither location is expected to have an indoor play area for children.
Both locations are expected to offer limited outdoor seating.
Both Braski and Grossnickle have strong histories with Chick-fil-A.
Braski worked for Chick-fil-A while in high school and in college. While in college, he helped with grand openings of Chick-fil-A restaurants in Griffin and Riverdale, according to Telegraph archives.
A University of Georgia graduate, Braski worked briefly with Hughes Honda in Warner Robins before venturing into the financial industry, Braski told Telegraph correspondent Michael W. Pannell in a 2011 Q&A.
Braski moved to Warner Robins in pursuit of the woman who would become his wife, Christine, who was the 4-H director for Houston County at the time. They grew up, went to church together in Columbus. At age 22, Braski had boasted that he would own his own Chick-fil-A, according to the Q&A.
Braski first took over a Chick-fil-A in the Macon Mall before moving to the 1867 Watson Blvd. location in Warner Robins in 2003. Today, Braski owns and operates not only the 1867 Watson Blvd. location but also two other Warner Robins locations at 3000 Watson Blvd. and at 790 Ga. 96 in the Bonaire community.
At the new Perry site, Grossnickle shared how he’d never intended to own a restaurant. His grandfather owned and operated a Bonanza Steakhouse and his brother managed a Hardee’s and several other restaurants.
At an early age, Grossnickle had decided that owning a restaurant was “all consuming.” He and his dad owned and operated a knife business.
But by 1996, Grossnickle was managing an Atlanta-area Chick-fil-A, and then from 1998-2001, Grossnickle was the operator of Chick-fil-A in what was then the Shannon Mall in Union City southwest of Atlanta. He also trained future Chick-fil-A operators for the corporate office.
Grossnickle and his family had attended the same church, First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, as the late S. Truett Cathy, who founded the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain. At one time, Grossnickle taught Sunday school and Cathy’s grandson, Andrew Truett Cathy, was in his class. Andrew Cathy assumed the role of chief executive officer for the restaurant chain Nov. 1.
Grossnickle is also the operating consultant for the Chick-fil-A in Fort Valley run by Fort Valley State University.
Written on the walls of the Chick-fil-A under construction in Perry is a paraphrase of a Bible verse, Psalm 22:1, that Grossnickle said was Truett Cathy’s favorite: “A good name is better than gold or silver.”
For Grossnickle, that’s foundational.
Telegraph correspondent Michael W. Pannell contributed to this story.