Northlake has been home to arriving Chick-fil-A franchise operator Brad Spratte all his life. Spratte is a 1983 graduate of , having been raised in the Hawthorne neighborhood and now lives in the Leafmore Creek area. He's in the process of relocating his franchise from Tucker after guiding the property through an upgrade. A former Viking football player, the welcoming restaurateur waxes easily about Northlake in its suburban mall heyday while rattling off popular destinations he grew up around.
Spratt said he also remembers when the familiar 1936-era WSB radio tower was surrounded by an empty field that became the Northlake Tower Festival. Now the unique, but stagnant shopping center gets an update from Spratte’s expansive landscaping while fellow Northlake area retailers (and residents) can hope for added LaVista Road vitality.
On Thursday, Spratte and Chick-fil-A executives will finally celebrate the “Eat More Chicken” company’s arrival to the Northlake business core. The company became interested in Northlake 20 years ago, after rolling out its first “stand-alone” stores. A corporate spokesperson said that Chick-fil-A had “never been able to secure a desirable site at the right price.” (Presumably, retailers gobbled up most street spaces in the 1970s with the early popularity of the mall). The company continues to believe in Northlake’s strength as a trade area, she said.
A Chick fil-A real estate director summarized their market data: “Demographically, the area is a great fit for us or nearly any retail or restaurant business for that matter. The site serves a dense and established residential customer base."
Chick-fil-A also has roots here that go beyond its Northlake Mall food court location. According to Spratte, Lakeside High graduates populate the company’s executive and franchise systems.
Spratte said he has high hopes for renewed capital and social investment in Northlake’s 1970s-era commercial area.
“My hope is that they (Simon Property Group) will reinvest in their property," he said, to mixed-uses and new streets.
The owner/operator is very happy to employ 80 full-time and part-time employees – high quality employees from applicants that recently formed a line inside the Marriott Courtyard and around the block for interviews that lasted more than 12 hours.
Northlake Prototype – Times Do Change
Chick-fil-A is trying out an interior service model called “Set the Stage” with a new front counter ordering area and a separate beverage area adjacent to the front counter ordering area. This is the first store to have this design. The stores are considered “quick-serve,” but the Northlake store will be a prototype for a hybrid quick-serve/casual dining service concept. Also, the exterior is different due to the Northlake overlay requirement; they had to add more glass windows.
Northlake Community Alliance Chairman Tom Ulbricht said, “On all new development we are requiring buildings to be built close to the main street within the guidelines of the Overlay Zone Ordinance.”
Regarding NCA’s guidance to Chick-fil-A, the 11-year-old nonprofit “had… direct involvement with them with respect to site design, landscaping, requirements for bicycle racks, parking, and setbacks.”
A Chick-fil-A spokesperson added, “In keeping with the required Northlake overlay ordinance we had to push the building closer to LaVista Road, add pedestrian access, include benches, a bike rack and increase our landscaping to adhere to the streetscape design. We also were not allowed to have parking along our front property line.”
Spratte says dual entrances to the Tower Festival are unique relative to other properties in which Chick Fil-A has stores—along with two drive-thru lanes.
May 26 Groundbreaking Celebration
The May 26 celebration will start with an 8:30 a.m. groundbreaking and welcoming the first 100 customers who will have traditionally camped at the store the night before in the hopes being awarded free Chick Fil-A meals for a year.