Earlier this year, I wrote an article
bemoaning the fact that the Chick-Fil-A
restaurant across from Park Plaza Mall
on Markham ranked tops in terms of sales among Little Rock restaurants. Reaction was mixed, with a few folks agreeing that the fast food chain's history of anti-gay discrimination and over-salted chicken patty sandwiches were the absolute worst—while others of you opined that I should, perhaps, "suck it, hippy." But overall, the main reasons folks seemed to like Chic-Fil-A had to do with convenience and efficiency. Being a fan of both of those things, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. That Markham location is just a few blocks from Chez Roberts, so I decided to conduct a little experiment and hit the place for breakfast, lunch and supper.
And guess what, Little Rock? I get it. When it comes to the fast food experience, I have to admit that the Markham Chick-Fil-A is one of the best around.
Breakfast. I slip into a drive-thru line wrapped all the way around the building, a sight that is pretty common at this location. I expect to be there for awhile. Surprisingly, the line manages to move faster than some of our streets, and I'm not only up to the speaker within just a few minutes, I've got my mini-chicken sandwiches and Diet Coke in hand before I can even finish reading an article on my phone. The bread on these things is way too sweet and the chicken is rather bland...but as for speed and efficiency, it's an A+ experience. Oh, and the "Welcome to Chick-Fil-A, how may I serve you" greeting at the speaker is a welcome change from the normal grunts I'm used to from drive-thrus.
Lunch. It's 12:30, and everyone in Little Rock is at Chick-Fil-A, or at least that's what it seems like. Spotting someone pulling out of a parking spot, I decide to put the lobby counter to the test and slip in to order. Despite the fact that the crowd in and around the building feels like the War Memorial Golf Course on a game day, I don't even finish gathering my napkins and ketchup before the gentleman behind the counter is calling my name to hand me my food. And again, everything is done with a smile and friendly attitude. The chicken nuggets I ordered are nothing special, but the Chick-Fil-A sauce that comes with them is...well, it's actually pretty good. Damn.
Supper. The wife and I make a run out to West Little Rock to do some shopping and decide to run through Chick-Fil-A for a quick bite. It's basically a replay of my previous breakfast scenario—courteous at the speaker, cars moved like a wedding reception conga kine, and I had my food and was back on the road in less time that it would have taken for McDonald's to get my order correct at the speaker.
So, there are some good reasons why this location is so popular, and I get it now. I still don't think the food is worth the raves it gets from people, and I don't care for the place's use as a symbol for gay-bashing. But when it comes to fast food—and we all eat it from time to time—I can certainly understand why someone with only an hour to spend and a stomach to fill might run through Chick-Fil-A. Credit where credit is due: it's quick and friendly.