The long-awaited fast-food giant Chick-fil-A opened today (Sept. 5) in Solon at one of the city’s busiest intersections, and Mayor Edward H. Kraus said traffic in the area will be monitored closely.
“For the first couple months our traffic engineer and police department will monitor it and make sure it fits exactly what their (Chick-fil-A’s) plan is,” Mayor Kraus said. That involves a 27-car line-up limit to the road from the drive-thru.
The restaurant’s approval met some dissent in 2018 among City Council members who were concerned about the amount of traffic the restaurant would generate. There was debate on the dais and a split vote, before giving the restaurant the green light to build. The Chick-fil-A received approval from the city for 13 zoning variances linked to the project.
A traffic impact and drive-thru safety study was also approved.
“We really won’t know until they are open and operating in terms of how much impact they will have,” said Councilman Robert N. Pelunis, who voted against the site plan. “We know they are going to have a lot of impact on traffic on the intersection. That was one of the concerns I had.”
Chick-fil-A is located on the corner of SOM Center Road and Kruse Drive near the Route 422 highway ramps. The restaurant is next to Rose Italian Kitchen which faces SOM Center Road. The busy corner also is adjacent to Solon Road.
Mayor Kraus said Chick-fil-A is a professional company that has studied the site for years.
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t make an investment like this unless they are confident traffic will flow through,” Mayor Kraus said.
“Their customer service is geared toward getting people in and out quickly, which is what I like about their philosophy,” Mayor Kraus said. “The first month or two, will it be crowded? I hope so.
“My goal in every business is a lot of traffic and people patronizing the businesses,” Mayor Kraus said. “That’s why businesses succeed here.”
The mayor said he is excited to have an empty building revitalized by the new eatery. The new Chick-fil-A site was once home to Panini’s and Tavern on 91. That site has been vacant for about three years. Chick-fil-A razed the old structure this year to make room for its new building, one of the largest in its chain of franchises.
“An empty structure like that is bad for business and the morale of the town,” Mayor Kraus said of the old building. “Now that we are filling things up, people feel it’s vibrant again and that the city is open for business.
“There is an excitement.”
Mayor Kraus said the restaurant will appeal to all ages and generations.
“They are an impressive company,” Mayor Kraus said, and in the top tier of sales nationwide.
Chick-fil-A built the largest of its prototypes at 5,000 square feet on the site. The building is primarily a tan brick structure with red accents.
Nearby, the redevelopment of the SOM Center Plaza, where a vacant Sears sat for years, is also moving quickly. Plans are to open the Hobby Lobby by the end of September, and the Aldi’s around the beginning of November.